I read somewhere that the average apprenticeship for a novelist is ten years. The other I’ve heard is “1 million words” before most can produce a novel worth reading. For some reason, for me, most of those words ended up being spent on the same set of characters.
I wrote different books, mind you. That’s the funny part. I wrote six full-length novels only to be unsatisfied with each one.
There were common threads through all of the books…such as, the main characters always had psychic abilities. After the first few versions, I realized I kept getting stuck on certain concepts in building the world. I mentioned this to another writer friend, and she suggested, quite sensibly, that I do some research.
I stared at her blankly.
“Research on a made-up phenomenon?”
She gave me an equally puzzled look. “Don’t you live in San Francisco?”
That actually made me laugh. I also had to concede her point.
I’d always shied away from the New Age thing, though. I may have lived in San Francisco, but I grew up in the South Bay, where my parents were Catholic and my friends agnostic. I’d gone to graduate school in New York City and felt pretty staunchly grounded in the material world. On the other hand, I had a research background, was a history buff already, and I’d even taken up martial arts to understand one of my characters. So I tried to approach my friend’s suggestion in the same light.
I started to research psychic phenomenon.
I admit, most of what I read initially struck me as pure bunk.
I kept at it though, and eventually began chasing more reasonable-sounding threads, most of them pertaining to more ancient systems of meditation and philosophy. I’d always resisted meditating in the past…yet, from a research perspective, the more hardcore practitioners fascinated me. In addition to some pretty amazing powers of concentration, a lot of these people seemed unusually happy…and in a real way, not a giddy, ‘let’s pretend’ way.
Of course, at a certain point, I had to try it myself…so I got heavily into meditation for about six years. Throughout that period, I didn’t write much fiction. When I came out on the other side, however, I found my entire approach to the book I’d wanted to write had changed. I started from scratch yet again and finally wrote the book that felt like the “right” one.
How did I know it was right?
Because I immediately wrote the sequel.
So when people ask me how long it took me to write the Allie’s War books, I always feel like Orlando when I say, “Well, the first one took…awhile.”
Since then, I’ve had a pro writer tell me that some ideas come along before the writer is ready to write them. My very first (real) novel ended up being that kind of book.
In this case, however, I think the book really wrote me.
28-year-old San Francisco native, Allie Taylor, at least thought she was human. But when she meets her first real seer, a race of human-like beings discovered in the 1900s, he tells her that not only is she a seer, like him, but that all the other seers believe she’s going to end the world. Unfortunately, no matter what she does, everything that happens after that only seems to prove him right.
About the Author
JC Andrijeski is a bestselling author who has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. Her short works have been published in numerous anthologies, online literary, art and fiction magazines as well as print venues such as NY Press newspaper and holistic health magazines. JC currently lives and writes full time in Sidhpur, India, at the foot of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh, a location she drew on a fair bit in writing the Allie’s War books.