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It was dark by the time I walked through the door. Seven o’clock. You wouldn’t think that was overly late but it wasn’t yet spring in Missouri and time hadn’t reverted back to borrowing time to make it light longer.
I dropped my keys in my purse. I had a major headache going on. I’d just finished Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich this morning before work and then ending was still bugging me. I went into the kitchen and flipped on the light, finding the book on my desk, I popped it open to the last 30 pages. It was a quick read for me. I had almost every line memorized. The way Ranger finds Stephanie crammed into an overhead cabinet. The way their eyes met. The way he kisses her bloody wrists. The emotion I felt in those few short paragraphs was killing me. How could she not be with him?
Matty popped his head around the corner and I closed the book with a sharp snap.
“You wanna watch a movie?”
Blow was the choice movie. We’d seen it at least a dozen times before. We sat on the couch together in the dark, eyes focused on the TV and still my mind wandered. I couldn’t get that scene out of my head. I knew there wasn’t another book. I’d checked a million times at the library. No new book for a few more months. I surely was going to die with longing to know what happened next. What if they didn’t get together in the next book? What about that look? How could she not see what I see?
There was only one way to fix this in my mind. I had to just get it out. I had to write. But how the hell was I going to do that? I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even have a notebook to write on.
You know what will happen in the next book, don’t you? There it was. That little voice. Poking me. Prodding me. They won’t be together. What are you going to do then? What if he brushes a curl behind her ear and walks away. What if there wasn’t another book?
I had to fix this problem. It was driving me nuts. I had printer paper. As soon as Matty went to bed, I was going to find a pen and just write something. Who cared if it made sense. No one would ever see it but me. No one would have to know what I’d done. Surely I’d lost my mind. No character had ever come to life for me like Ranger and Stephanie on a page. There was something about the way they looked at each other.
I looked up at Matty sitting beside me on the couch and he happened to look down at me the same time. The glow from the TV was perfect on his smiling face and I knew why I was addicted. Matty was my Ranger. And I had to let Stephanie see that. Somehow.
That settled it. I had to do something. So I patiently waited. I fidgeted. I chewed on my thumbnail. I got up and walked around. I did the dishes. And finally, it was midnight. Way past our bedtime. I smiled all the way up the stairs. I thought of the way I wanted to write. What I was going to write. It was going to be perfect. And finally I’d be able to have some peace and quiet.
It was one am. I tossed back the blankets and crept down the stairs. The house was eerily silent in the hush of night and I was slightly creped out that I had the guts to walk down into the kitchen. I pulled a couple of sheets from the print and found an old ink pen. I slid into a kitchen table chair and sat there.
No words came to me.
I put my head in my hands. This was the worst feeling. I knew it was there. Why couldn’t I write it now?
“I glanced into the mirror. The black mini dress molded to every curve and made me feel slightly self-conscience. I could do this, I reminded myself. It’s not like I’d never done a distraction for Ranger before. Piece of cake, right?”
My god! What is that?! I read over it. “What the hell is this?” I ask myself. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just going to go with this until I get to the scene where she throws herself into his arms and kisses him like she’s never kissed someone before and swear that she loves him.
I put my ink pen back to the paper. My fingers flew through sheets of paper. My hand would cramp and I rubbed it out, a mad gleam in my eye as I tried to remember everything flowing through my mind. I finally got to the end. By no means did Stephanie throw herself into his arms. She backed him into a wall and wrapped a leg around his thigh. She drew him into her, pressed herself against every hard inch of him and brushed her lips over his. And as quickly as she did that, she walked away from him.
WTF am I writing? I asked myself, reading back over it. I was cross-eyed. Delirious. I glanced back at the microwave clock and rubbed my eyes. It was almost six am!
I shoved the papers into my desk, underneath the keyboard covered in three inches of dust and dropped the cover over them. I hustled back upstairs and fell into bed, asleep before my head even hit the pillow.
Eight AM comes very early to someone on two hours of sleep.
I wrote about 40 pages of Mission: Distraction (which wasn't what I ended posting and at this point wasn't even titled), before I ever had the nerve to type it up. I knew how to type. I was a computer major in college. I type faster than my brain can keep up. But there was something very intimidating about the computer. I felt very phony. And I dared to breathe a word of my obsession to my younger sister- who at the time was very obsessed with Sailor Moon (Anime) fan fiction.
“You should post it.”
“NO!” I shook my head violently side to side. “No way. I’m too old for that crap. I don’t know why I wrote it. Surely I’ll get sued.”
“No way, dude. There’s a ton of stuff out there.” She pulled up her email account. “Listen. What do you have to lose? I’ll email you the site link to that fan fiction site.”
I made myself sick on the way home. Post it? Was she insane? Clearly she was because she was in the same family as me, but I couldn’t post this. I didn’t own these characters. People would make fun of me. They would KNOW it was me.
When I was in high school, I was being a smart ass to my English teacher and in my goal for what I wanted to do after high school I put: I’m going to be on the top of the NYT someday.
My English teacher thought this was brilliant. I laughed in her face. I hate writing. Why would I ever write for fun?
What did I have to lose? Everything, I swore to myself. Okay so that might be a little melodramatic. But surely I’m too old to post “fan fiction” as my sister liked to refer to it as. And still, this writing thing was still in my head. I had to write something else. She was still talking to me. Telling me where she wanted to go next. Telling me what she wanted to do. This wasn’t good. I was obsessed!
I got home in a mood. The night was ruined. My stomach was churning. I might have sweated a little bit. I pulled up the email account and sure enough, there was an email from my sister.
Hey. I checked into that for you. You have to sign up for a penname
and there’s a three day wait. If you want to sign up, do it now before
you have a chance to think about it.
Buck up. Don’t be a chickenshit.
And at the bottom was the link to the site. I sweated it out for a minute. Palms sweaty. Mouth drier than the Mohave. Knees knocking. Did I dare click on it? I’m known for doing crap that I wished I hadn’t. I’m too impulsive for my own good. I mean, look where this reading thing got me! I knew I shouldn’t have picked up that book Janine told me too. “Just read this book. I know you’ll like it.” I shook my head politely NO. I’m not into those sorts of books. I told her. I like historicals. “No. NO. No. You’ll love this. Stephanie Plum is a riot. This is the eighth book. You don’t have to read them in order. I really think you’ll enjoy it.” Still I shake my head no. I hold this woman off for two years on this Stephanie Plum book obsession she had going on. And then I caved and now it has me getting up in the middle of the night like a thief and stealing downstairs to write like a mad woman until dawn.
So I click on the link. Fanfiction.net. It seems pretty harmless. There’s something like 10 pages to browse through of Stephanie Plum fan fiction. I read one. Someone rewrote the last scene in Eleven on Top in Ranger’s POV. I fell in love. I read this story about a million times. Never would I have ever thought to write in another POV. Stephanie felt natural to me, but this writer made Ranger come alive in front of my eyes. I felt his desperation. I felt his hunger for revenge. I felt his overwhelming moment of relief to find her alive. I was looking through his eyes and seeing the tears brushing along her lower lashes. Knew she thought she was going to die. Knew that she kept telling herself over and over again that he’d save her.
And in that moment I knew what I had to do. I went to the sign in page and filled out the necessary information. No one would ever know me. No one would know it was ME. I could do this anonymously.
No one would ever find out!
Wrong. I’m at something close to 35 fan fiction stories for Stephanie Plum two years later. Two full length stories under my belt, two novellas, and dozens of short stories. Fan fiction gave me the courage to try to write something of my own. Gave me the courage to reach out to other people, other writers and talk to them. Helped me meet women who I’ll never forget, who I’ll always be friends with, and gave me more sisters. Partners in crime.
So, I know that was long. I’m getting back into the old habit of long-windedness.
Tell me about your first time writing. The first time you wrote a scene you never thought you’d be able to write. The first time you wrote anything. Did it come out the way you wanted it or was it something completely different from what you envisioned? For our reading wenches, how about the first time you found a community for your favorite author? Did you have a hard time just jumping in there?