I started writing when I was twelve. That was when I really tried to write my first book. I knew it was what I wanted, and it was something that belonged only to me. I was in a new school, away from my old friends, and I wanted to do something for me.
Then, the computer was replaced.
I had to start again. No biggie. I hadn't written much. So, I started again. I managed a chapter, and for some reason, I gave up. I wish I could explain why. I don't think I was getting the story any more.
So, once more, I started again. I made the character younger. I thought, "I understand a twelve year old much better than a sixteen year old." Except no. I didn't. I didn't understand characters.
That's a tough lesson to learn when trying to write a first book, but I didn't let it put me off. I started taking notes for the book. I numbered everything. I wanted to understand the world my characters were in. That way, I could let the story try to tell itself.
I started the fourth draft. I made my protagonist sixteen again. I was only fourteen. No, I didn't understand how a sixteen year old thought. I didn't understand how a sixteen year old girl thought, either. But I took a damn good shot at it, and didn't make her from Earth. The story was filled with parallel worlds, and she was from one a little bit like Earth, but less advanced.
I gave her a name. I gave her a crush. I gave her a best friend. I threw her into the deep end and surrounded her with some new friends, because I understand that one. I made her face monsters and magic and destiny, and I got to ignore bullies at school.
I finished the book when I was fifteen, at over 120,000 words, and right as my Junior Cert was starting. I wrote the book for the fun of it all, because I was useless at sports - and I'd tried a few, in my defence - and I didn't want to play computer games all the time. I also couldn't afford to buy many books, and my school's library had a limited choice available. I wrote the book I wanted to read, because there was nothing else in this world for me.
It would be over a year later before I got my first job, before I could afford a reading habit the likes of which I hadn't been able to sustain properly before. I would be over a year before I could read more than one author at a time without waiting for presents of books at Christmas and my birthday. And that wasn't enough for me. I wrote because I needed the stories, and they just weren't there.