In the eighth grade, I felt like I was an outsider in this group of people who accepted me. So I started writing to feel my miserable hours in class and during recess. Cassandra was a funny thirteen year old girl who played pranks on her older sister and laughed with her twin brother. She carried me to a place where I didn't feel so alone. Writing had caught me by the throat and wasn't about to let go.
Looking back on that first story, I see it for what I wanted it to be when I was thirteen, but I also see the horrible writing mistakes. I used the same words and adjectives over and over again. I see spelling errors and punctuation errors. The mistakes are numerous. But that's were I began.
The next school year, the feeling of being alone in a group of people lingered, and so, I sat down at my computer and tried to write other stories that could take me away. I'd start one and it wouldn't grab me the same way The Story of Cassandra Brookins had, so I'd start another. Then, Into Astrid's Heart began to formulate in my head.
I had just finished reading Lauraine Snelling's A Touch of Grace. She wrote about a Norwegian family making their home in America in a town called Blessing. I was inspired.
You see, my family has a Swedish heritage that has always held interest for me. So I began to plot out the Hansson family tree (forgive me, in Astrid's story, I spelled it Hansen, which is not the Swedish spelling of the surname). I created Great-grandparents, and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.
Then I saw Astrid's name, right in the middle of the family tree and I smiled. I really liked Astrid Dahlquist. Something about her intrigued me - she seemed to embody so much of me. I could see her fear of rejection and the haughty wall she built up around herself and I saw how much she acted like me.
So I gave Astrid a reason to be that way - I gave her a limp. Then I made her bossy and all these other magnified traits I had at the time. Then I began to write.
It just flowed out of my head, and as Astrid began to solve her problems, I found God working in an incredible way in my life, solving the same issues in me.
... And my writing wasn't all that bad! I had told the story of Astrid in a way I could be proud of. During the time when I kept starting all those new stories that just couldn't grab me, I had learned a lot about how to describe a scene and create dialogue between people. I also had learned about conflict and how to resolve it. Astrid's story really benefited from all the flukes I had written before.
I self-published Into Astrid's Heart in the summer of 2010, and so far, I've sold 13 copies. I know very well that the writing isn't as good as some more professional pieces of fiction, but it holds a special place in my heart, even as my talent grows, ans I look back on it and cringe at all the "was's" "had's" and "ly adverbs," it still reminds me of how far I've come and what writing has taught me and helped me deal with... as time goes by.
After Into Astrid's Heart, I began working on a story about her cousin, Lucia Hansson. Lucia's Story will undergo some editing during this summer, and should be available on Amazon.com by August of 2011 or sooner. the sequel to Lucia's Story, His Sweet Christin, is undergoing some major revsion as well. I cannot say when it will be available. Currently, I am working on His Sweet Christin's sequel, Rebecka's Fragile Heart as well as Allison's Tisdale's story.
Don't be afraid when you look at your first manuscript and gasp in horror. Writing is a craft, and must be learned through practice. The more you write the better you will become. So set aside your first manuscript (don't throw it away!!!) and start working on another story. Then, after a few months... or years... pull your first manuscript out again and laugh as you compare it to what you're writing now. You'll be surprised at what you've learned.