When the Story Chooses the Author
Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Out of all the ideas for all the stories in all the world, I decided to write this one. Why? Well, that’s kind of a funny story. Because the truth of the matter is that I didn’t actually choose to write this story. It chose me.
That probably sounds ridiculous. But it’s true.
I had been bouncing ideas around for a Rapunzel retelling for about six months, but hadn’t come up with anything more than a basic premise that involved Rapunzel being a selkie who was kidnapped by the fae when she was very young, with a yearning for something she couldn’t name, because she’d never seen the sea.
Beyond that, I didn’t have much else in mind for this story, and I had a 5-book fantasy/gaslamp series I was working on called The Turrim Archive, and that took precedence. I had no intention of writing this book anytime soon.
However, in March of 2019, during which our family was moving and I was purposefully taking a month off from writing so that I could focus on the move, the idea for this story lodged itself in my brain and refused to give me any peace. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I sat down and wrote out a 1400-word outline just to try to get it to leave me alone, but it wouldn’t.
I wrote the first scene.
Still no relief.
March ended, April began, and I went back to writing the final book in my Turrim Archive, but every word was a struggle.
April ended and May began. Writing the Turrim Archive continued to be a monumental effort. Occasionally, I would pause and write a little bit of Echo’s story, and the words would come pouring out effortlessly.
One night I dreamed an entire scene of Echo’s story, and when I woke up, it still made sense. That had never happened to me before.
It was at that moment that I had an epiphany. I was thinking about Samuel from the Bible, and how God audibly spoke to him and called his name 3 times before Eli or Samuel realized that it was God speaking to him. It’s easy to look at the characters in the Bible and think they were super dense not to realize certain things, and it was then that I paused and asked, “Lord, am I the idiot, here?”
I decided to talk it over with my husband (for surely he would talk me out of this ridiculous notion, nobody on the planet wants me to finish Turrim Archive more than he does!) and he said that maybe I should pause on Turrim Archive and write this new story!
So I did. And the words continued to flow. I finished the book in less than 2 months, and can honestly say that this story was the easiest one I’ve ever written.
As for why I chose to write it? I can’t answer that in any sort of satisfactory way other than to say that I didn’t. This time, the story chose me.