Revisiting Elijah. The story of Elijah came out of being a 22 year-old college student who was concerned for her future and questioning organized religion. I grew up as a Christian. My mother raised us of the Baptist denomination and my father was Catholic so we went to Catholic school from 6th-8th grade.
The 22 year-old me was haunted for months because I felt it all in my bones. There was a character that needed to come out of my life experiences. I struggled not with my belief in God but with the idea that I had to do this or that otherwise I was a sinner. Wasn’t it more important to try to be good to people than worry that I had a drink from time to time or like dancing at the club? I never stopped believing in God. I was upset because I stopped believing in myself. I had no confidence. I was struggling in college because I was confused about so many things. I didn’t have anyone to guide me.
My freshman year of college I was so sure I was going to be a journalist. The journalism career was always the plan. Fast forward to the beginning of what should have been my senior year. I decided to make a change to the horror of my parents. I didn’t want to continue studying journalism anymore. I wanted to be a writer but was not sure of how to find a job with it. I was told by some of my professors I could study English and teach or be a technical writer. (Now I realize they were telling me this under the assumption I was going to graduate school). Nonetheless, I thought that was one of those may be a good idea so I switched over to the English degree program. I figured quickly I didn’t want to be a teacher. I have a high regard for teachers and have many friends that teach. I just didn’t feel it was my calling.
I was four classes shy from getting my journalism degree and totally changed my career plan. My parents were devastated because they just didn’t understand what I could possibly do with an English degree if I wasn’t going to be a teacher. They always told me I would have been a great teacher.
Well…Elijah took space in my head. I had always wanted to tell a story from a male voice. He had to be my age also struggling with college, his future, and questions about organized religion. Elijah was me but not me in so many ways (other than his gender). I started writing his story and it resembled mine so much it was scary. I had been writing since I was eight-years-old and never told a story that was basically my own. It was important to me to always keep a safe distance between myself and my characters.
I stopped writing after a few weeks. His story hit too close to home – there was no safe distance between him and me. I wasn’t ready to tell his/my story. It dawned on me that at 22 I still had a lot of growing up to do. I made bad decisions and handled some adversity not long afterwards. I didn’t come back around until two years later with a fresher perspective on everything. Elijah slipped away from me. I was a new person and didn’t need to tell his story anymore.
A year ago he came back into my life. I’m not sure why but he did. I felt the chill in my bones again and something was telling me I needed to revisit his story. It would be different this time. I wouldn’t be telling my story anymore. He would be telling his story through me. After a few months I quit writing about him.
I realize all of this may sound bizarre to someone who is not a writer. Sometimes characters really do live in you. Now that it is 2016 I feel different about my character. I know there are other stories I want to tell. I don’t know if I will ever complete Elijah‘s saga. He will never get buried completely. I will think of him like an ex-boyfriend: someone who I admired for awhile but then everything changed and I had to walk away. The ex-boyfriend you mull over for a several minutes every few months. The truth: the two of you parted ways and it’s all OK.
This year I will be rolling out some of my writing. I can’t wait for people to read my work. It has been a long time coming. I wanted to talk about my experience with trying to write Elijah because I think a lot of writers go through this experience. There is a story or characters that you just feel so close to at a stage in your life and then: POOF! You are a few years older, had some life changes, and want to move on to other things. Growth happens as a writer. It is good to reflect.
2016 – here I come!