How Did I Get Here?

-Everyone Has to Start Somewhere-

I suppose my start began with a love of books, as it probably does for a lot of authors. My love for books likely came from my mother, because it sure as sugar didn’t come from my dad. He adamantly stays away from books. I was pretty much an only child in a rural area so I spent a lot of time on my own, and before I had internet and satellite TV, books were my only company, and they were great companions. Whole worlds to explore in the relative comfort of my home.

There was one book in particular that stood out to me, a book that had me hooked from the first sentence:

“Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that would change the world.”

In a way, it changed my world, too.  The book, Eragon, was an amazing adventure of magic and dragons and sword fights.  It swept me up and never did let me go.  I re-read it multiple times over the years, wearing out the edges of my paperback copy.  I put a tally mark in the corner of the first page each time I finished it.  I’ve probably re-read Eragon more times than any other book in my life.  And I couldn't tell you how many times I sketched the book cover over the course of the years.

-Then So Could I-

I went into an era of loving dragons.  I painted them, I collected them, I picked up any other book I could with dragons in it.  I needed more.  And it was around that time that I realized that the author, Christopher Paolini, wrote the book when he was in his teens.  I was around 12 at the time, and thought, if he could do it, then so could I!

I started my own fantasy epic called Barrenhall that was about a young witch that gets driven from her home and travels with a young warlock that teaches her how to use her magic.  Yada yada, come to find out by the end of the story that the evil Queen of the land was the one after her because the queen was also secretly her mother, and the witch and the warlock fall in love etc etc.  Not very original, and I didn’t get very far despite all my plans.  I made maps, I drew characters.  But it was a start. 

My next big project was the first story that I came within a chapter or two of finishing.  But since I wrote it all down on notebook paper around the age of 14, there’s not much I can do with it now except just re-write it.  This story concept I still feel could be a real game changer for my writing career, so I’m going to keep its plot a secret for now.  I have written up a new first chapter for it since then, but it’s slow going with all my other projects. 

-Practice, Practice, Practice-

Between 12 and 17, I spent a lot of time on a forum role playing with other people online.  We would stay up until 2 in the morning some nights replying to each other’s posts until someone passed out and disrupted the chain.  We wrote fanfiction and original stories.  I was the youngest of the group, but I managed to keep up, and we wrote some amazing stories together that have since been lost to sites going down and faulty memory.  We encouraged each others' individual projects and it all served as a good way for me to practice writing. 

I owned my own role playing site, briefly, in my late teens where I applied my concept of an alternate angelic fall story, and on the site players would have their characters interact in that world.  It worked, for a while, and was ahead of its time in player-story interaction compared to other sites formatted the same way.  But good things come to an end because of people that have to tear down a good thing for no other reason than because it was beautiful.  And I was forced to abandon the project shortly after its second anniversary.

In college, I took a creative writing class as well as a poetry class.  I came out of it with a few stories and poems that I thought had potential.  I greatly enjoyed the instructor’s way of teaching.  Too many times in an art class you’re told to draw or paint something very specific, usually some form of still-life, which made it hard for me to put much effort into it because it bored the hell out of me.  In contrast, my creative writing instructor would only give you a rule and you could come up with almost anything to fulfill it.  For example, he told us to write a story with only simple description, nothing that would have a connotation like “lovely” or “shifty.”  It challenged me to try and make a thrilling story when I couldn’t use extravagant details.  And when I was done with the poetry class, I understood why everything depends on the red wheelbarrow.  

-Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing-

Writing never really left me even as I entered the eight-to-five grind.  To this day, I journal on almost a daily basis to get myself used to punching out words and to help me remember significant events in my life for later down the road. 

I have, unfortunately, slowed down a lot of my reading.  I keep buying books and buying books and shoving them on a crowded shelf and never picking them up again.  And I do agree with Stephen King that to be a good writer you have to "write a lot and read a lot."  So I need to change this trend and start reading during my lunch break instead of watching Netflix offline on my tablet.  But maybe I’m getting a little something out of watching TV shows, too, or so I’d like to think.  Maybe it’s not studying the written word, but in a way it’s still studying character development and plot organization, among other things.  And I have always wanted to be involving in film production behind the scenes with story-boarding and script writing. 

In fact it was the terrible excuse of an adaption to the big screen of Eragon that drove me to wanting to be involved in film, because as a teenager I thought I could have written the screen play better than the mess that we got instead.  And it also spurred a general love of movies.  Which I also keep buying and buying and shoving on an overcrowded shelf without ever watching them.  But I didn’t follow my film-making dream because my love for a relaxing rural area conflicts with the bustle of Hollywood. 

So, I guess you could say that I am here because of a boy and his dragon.

And that’s pretty nifty if you ask me. 

-Dana Lockhart

P.S.  Fun fact, my childhood brain didn’t know how to pronounce Eragon (era-gone) so I said it as E-ragon, like dragon but with an E.  I think I was also a little lazy on the name Saphira, and only read the first half and auto-completed the name as Sapphire in my mind.  I was flabberghasted when I found out I was wrong.  Now I’m flabberghasted that I could have been so wrong.  Ah, kids. 


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