The moment you decide you are a writer, it's inevitable that you will find yourself paralyzed with fear and doubt, and unable to write. A friend of mine—who will stay anonymous—told me one day, and I'm sure I'm paraphrasing, "I wish the world wasn't like this, but sometimes to make it in this world, a girl has to have 'Big D Energy.'" Of course, she said something other than the letter "D." I will keep that slang terminology rated PG... for now. Confident in my belief in the afterlife, and in the existence of a power greater than myself, I made a decision about a year ago that whatever mystery was to come after death—whether we get one life and one chance, or, like some believe, 1,000 trips back to make it right—I was going to live like a cat in its ninth life. I didn't know the term "Big D Energy" at the time.
A year ago, with the support and encouragement of my husband, I decided I wanted to quit my day job to make my artistic journey through this life as a "Renaissance Vagabond," as all artists do—at least the ones who refuse to make a living doing anything normal. One month, I'm directing five plays, back-to-back; the next month, I'm waiting for the job that starts the month after that. I'm making a living doing what I love, and every once in a while, I stop everything to make Halloween costumes. The work keeps coming, but so do the spaces in between.
When the money is coming in, the creditors get their payments, and we don't get cut-off notices from the utility companies. In-between times bring late, or missed, mortgage or car payments. If I get some regular desk job, my dreams will once more become hobbies. But, I will have stability, and know that there will be a roof over our heads. You can have one, or the other: happy instability, or misery with guaranteed protection from the elements. I already chose happy instability. I don't want to go back.
And then there's Edith.
I've written over 50,000 words of the book so far, and my outline for the entire series is up to 23,000 words by itself, but I have found it nearly impossible to complete a short summary of my book, Edith, Awake. Giving a rough estimate, I believe the first book will be completed at between 100,000 and 120,000 words. This first half took me one year. I believe the second half should take as long, although I am hoping it does not. It all depends upon how much time I am able to give to it.
I've tried and failed for months to find a way to shove what I think is my life's work into a couple of sentences. My husband and some close friends have been helping me prepare to pitch the idea to literary agents and publishers, so I can get an advance and have the time to finish it. However, the scope of the series is too big. This is a saga in line with Dune or Harry Potter, peppered with a seasoning of Steven King-like horror, the suspense of Thomas Harris, and a just enough of L.M. Montgomery's hope.
...and, the scope of a story that transcends time, like Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles.
...and, the reserved and calculated romance of a Bronte or Austen.
Kings and queens, and masquerade balls. Delicious anti-heroes, and girls against the world. Aged wisdom, and youthful ignorance. Pop culture, and raw emotion. Trauma and triggers. Mystery and adventure. Dreams and nightmares. McGuffins, and Mary Sues, and Smoke and Mirrors.
I could simplify it, and describe it like this:
Who, or what, is The Name, and what is Edith, Awake? The first book in The Name Series, follows Edith, a former teacher recovering from a tragedy, as fate forces her into solving a mystery that cannot be solved. She and a group of strangers have no choice but to begin an epic and terrifying journey to understand what she is becoming, before those that would kill her can find her—or she loses control, and time is up for humanity, one poor soul at a time.
Or, I could give you the first pages:
Edith, Awake (Written by Kathryn Sterling)
I cannot tell you the day when the fire erased my prints from my hands, but I do remember the pain of the flames. I cannot tell you what day my birth fell upon, or how the stars were aligned when I came to be, but I can tell you I know what lies beyond the stars. I don't even know my age; none of us do. Until now, our history has been passed down by spoken word, with time having no meaning in our lives. As I write this, the one thing with meaning was, and is, "The Name." That is what we call it: "The Name." The Name has been erased from history, and we were the ones who erased it, for surely... if we could not remember it, then no one could. And if The Name was remembered, no other name would ever matter.
To an outsider, The Name would be an uninteresting mediocrity. At first glance, it would seem unimportant. Get closer to it, and you start to feel its power, but it still looks plain and ordinary, which most certainly not. Some knowledge was measurably cut from our history, like the lines on our fingers and palms, but some knowledge was pointedly left intact, for the exact same reason. First, it carries within it a kind of magic, or curse, which for the moment is unbroken, and in check. Second, while we are near its presence we will not age as others do, and so, although we are not incapable of experiencing death, we live almost immortal lives—if we are careful. Third, we can feel Its power but cannot see, understand, or explain it. Last, whatever The Name is, and whatever The Name is capable of doing, someone decided there was enough evidence to call for its destruction, or at least, to make it impossible to use.
Whoever "They" were, whenever "They" lived... Someone decided, long ago, that there would be no hints, no clues, and no possibilities of an outsider ever truly understanding the power "It" possessed. And so, my history and identity were erased in flames. I will ask no questions, because I have asked them all. I ceased my search for answers ages ago. My life has one purpose, and that is to keep the object away from the one who would wake it, no matter the cost.
Instead of telling you why you will like this story, I'm going to tell you the story—a bit here, and a bit there. Instead of pretending that everything is going swimmingly, I'm going to tell you how it's not. I'll tell you about the process. I'll tell you when I want to rip my hair out from frustration. There will be talk of character creation and plot development, and playing God with the lives of my characters. We'll journey together through setbacks and triumphs, and I will hope that, with enough talk, one of you might be the person who reads this and makes it possible for Edith to wake the hell up.
So, Dear Reader:
Are you ready to start this journey with me? I haven't even started talking about turning the books into episodic script form. I'm an imperfect, 44-year-old married woman, with a propensity towards anything with carbohydrates, and I have, if I'm lucky, an equal amount of time left to me, as that which I have already spent. As a woman who wants to be a success, I'm putting everything on the table in a voice of understated, yet confident, Big Girl Energy—meant to conjure feelings of empathy and trust in my abilities. This is even written at an eighth grade reading level, so I can make sure to reach the biggest audience. Being a natural introvert, I have struggled with trying to find a way to promote and sell a book series by hiding in my living room with the curtains drawn, and while wearing a blanket over my head. I have found that is impossible. I try to teach my students that the world should hear their voices.
I'll keep dreaming, if you do, too. God bless.