This is the vlog version. Pick your poison.
I need to explain exactly what happened. I and fellow teen writer, Evan L. Rodriqguez co-wrote a crossover fic. It started because of a flyaway suggestion that whoever lost some competition, we banter a lot, that the loser would have to write a story of our female protagonists bickering.
During math class, I spaced out and wrote some of that but I found that Evan’s main character, Aeris and my own, Mahalia-Aeris and Mahalia did not make an interesting dynamic.
BUT, Evan’s male protagonist, Zyaos and Mahalia were hilarious. They were complete opposites in everything except that they are both lone wolves. And when two people who prefer to work alone are forced to work together, that already don’t like one another it was entertaining. I started writing it and Evan joined in. And these are just some things I’ve learned from writing that.
Becoming comfortable with my first draft writing
This is perhaps the most important one, which is why I put it first. We wrote this on a google doc that I shared with him. I wrote a lot of the first part before he joined in. I had no idea that he was going to help until he did. So I was writing a literal first draft and I could see Evan follow along as I wrote, in real time.
Like other people, I am definitely cautious when sharing my writing. My writing is my baby. I don’t want people to judge any of my writing until it is polished and gone through ten edits. To have someone read my writing as I write it definitely took some getting used to. Surprisingly, it happened pretty quickly.
Evan’s a great guy and made me feel comfortable with my writing. And with that, I do feel a lot better about my first drafts. I know first drafts are infamous for being dumpster fires but I feel a lot better about my first drafts. It’s not as horrible as I make it out in my head. And having a friend there to tell me when I wrote a cool line or what I should change really helped.
Bonding With a Friend
The whole reason I think this passion project was so fun is because of Evan. He was so kind to me and gave me criticism kindly. This point is just to praise Evan, which I know makes him uncomfortable. Let’s add a point to Team Danielle.
I already was friends with Evan before this obviously. But I started writing this for us because it was so much fun. I’m so thankful to have a friend that was so compassionate and frankly, hilarious. I can’t reiterate enough how great of a guy he is and how much fun I had. You should follow him. His book is so good he’s definitely going places.
He really helped me feel comfortable with my writing. But writing aside, I bonded with a friend. I laughed with him. We poked on fun at one another. We fanboyed and fangirled about our own work. And frankly, anytime I get to spend time making Evan smile is time not wasted, but actually treasured. I expect fourteen hours until Evan records that clip and puts it on his phone so that every time I win some petty banter, he’ll send that to annoy me.
Embracing the Chaos
This writing was just meant for fun. I made no notes beforehand. I just thought I have an idea and I want to see how far it’ll go. It was the exact situation when I was twelve. I just had an idea and sat down to explore it. That was it.
I didn’t outline any of it. I pantsed the whole thing. I wrote out of order. I edited as I went. And let me tell you, I had so much fun. Will I incorporate this type of workstyle into my actual writing? I don’t know. Writing my novels now, I get anxious not knowing what’s going to come next. But I have learned that I am not a plotter but a prantser, somewhere in the middle.
Who knew this lil fic would teach me something about my writing process? I find it fun to have an idea of where it’s going, which I did when I wrote the fic. But I had no idea how the middle would go. I had an end goal and I had to figure out how these characters interacted. It was fun. And not as constricting or suffocating with having an outline felt.
I Found My Love of Writing Again
In March, I made a video sharing how I kind of fell out of love of writing in late 2018. I can now say I found my love of writing again. Yay!
It wasn’t just because of this fic. I fell in love with short stories, a new medium. I talked with members of the writing community and am making new friends. I have plans with my novel and I’m working on it again, this time with some newfound joy. But the fic definitely did add to all of that helped me love writing again.
It was fun to work on something that I knew would never be released to the public. I shared it with a friend and there was freedom in writing something no one else would see. I could write as horrifically as I wanted. I could do whatever I wanted without judgment.
I hope one day I can feel that with my own work, but with this lil’ fic’ it was so much fun. Writing is still fun.
Learning to Accept Comments
I love Evan and he criticized my work. Albeit not viciously, never like that. But he definitely told me stuff that his character would or would not do. The first few times, I was shook. I was like way too sensitive.
If anything, he just wants to see your guys’ characters portrayed truly. He clearly has complimented you and your writing before, so just be happy you’re spending time with him.
I overreacted in the beginning. Evan doesn’t know this but like, if someone told me I made a typo I’d be upset. I don’t think the only one. I can’t be the only one.
The things he commented weren’t criticism per say. They were more like kind suggestions and more often than not, genuine praise. I learned when to get over myself and change the words when they clearly didn’t work in canon.
I’m Not as Bad as I Think I Am
I am not as a bad writer as I make myself out to be. Every writer has had those days when they hate their work and just want to burn it all. This is especially relevant when it comes to first drafts.
But like, Evan was just so supportive. And told me when I wrote a cool line. In case y’all haven’t noticed, I am clearly someone that thrives on verbal praise as a love language. And Evan is not that, which is why I do it so often to make him uncomfortable not because he’s like a great guy or anything or is genuinely kind or-
When Evan tells me I wrote a cool line, which I think has happened approximately twice. Each time I might’ve jumped out of my skin. I cannot reiterate enough how much I value his opinion.
Writing this has helped me realize I’m not that bad. Granted, it was a first draft but like, clearly the both of us enjoyed it. I read back some of the words from that document and I think hey, it’s not that bad. Sometimes as a writer, you got to recognize that about yourself.
Helped Me Shape Mahalia’s backstory
This helped me shape Mahalia’s backstory. Now hold up, close to nothing in that document was canon. But some of the backstory was. The relationships between my characters was canon.
While the story I’m writing takes place four years after the fic was written, it was still really interesting to see teenage Mahalia. In the present novel where she is now, she is nineteen or twenty. In the document I shared with Evan, she was sixteen.
Teenage Mahalia is miles different from adult Mahalia. Teenage Mahalia is even more uptight and insufferable, but obviously I know her true colors. It was interesting to see how much she had changed. Teenage Mahalia clung onto her title because that’s what got her everything she needed. I learned a lot through seeing through the eyes of teenage Mahalia and just how far she was going to right some wrongs, even at that young of an age.
What I’m saying is I definitely took a lot from learning about my character. And I didn’t expect that. I feel like I could relate to her a lot more. I just love her so much.
The Importance of a Passion Project
I unofficially dropped this project. I haven’t touched it in two weeks since I’ve written the notes for this vlog. I feel like I and Evan had fun with it, it’s run its course.
But I’m still curious to see what happens. I didn’t plan any of it out. I’m curious to see how Evan’s character react to my characters. I still have questions. But I also had school while I wrote it. And I have my own projects. I have a novel to write and a short story to edit. I got scripts to write. Novels to critique.
I knew Evan would be more than understanding and who knows, maybe I’ll write more of our fic’ one day. But it’s definitely not a priority. If I do work on it, it’ll be while I watch a show and just type away without much concern.
I didn’t feel ashamed of giving up on this project because it wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway. And I don’t think I’ve completely mastered the ability to drop a project yet, but this is a start in feeling confident in my own judgment.