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Six years ago, I met a girl. She just showed up one day, out of the blue. Her name was Thea, though I didn’t know it at the time. Neither did she, for that matter. She didn’t know much about herself or where she came from. Everything that made her tick, made her unique, made her a living person, was locked away in the subconscious mind. My subconscious, not hers. And she needed me to get it out.
She hounded me until I wrote her story, during which we worked as partners. Whenever a phrase or event or line of dialogue hit the page, she would remember. Details of events, character quirks of her supporting cast, images of her world, she helped me get it all right, and the product was a nice story of loss and courage, too long for a short story, too short for a novella.
I put the piece away and for the next two years gave little thought to Thea and her world as I started and scrapped four different novels. It wasn’t until I reluctantly pulled the story out for new friends that I heard her voice again. “More,” it said. It came from the mouths of my friends, as they thought the open ending left room for plenty more story, but the voice was Thea’s. I wasn’t finished telling her story, and she wasn’t going away until I had.
Three years and 150K words later, the first draft was complete. Long before I had finished, though, I realized this book is only the first part of her story. She’s going to be with me a long time. That’s okay, though: she’s become part of the family. Even my wife’s become attached; she named our new puppy Thea.
That may be why my “getting published” ambition has slacked off recently, and why I don’t rend my clothing at every rejection. It’s not about the publishing contract or the potential fame. It’s not even about me. It’s about giving voice, and life, to a world of people that would otherwise remain silent. Call me crazy if you want, but they’re real, in every way that matters.