Updated: Mar 28
The year is 2016. The girl is obsessed with ghosts and Stevie Nicks. Fleetwood Mac plays on a constant loop, slowly edging out the Beatles for her most-played artist. A character, borne from the girl's two dominant obsessions, emerges: Ella DeGray, proud Goth and clairvoyant. She is one part Stevie Nicks, two parts Daria. Ethereal, yet snarky. Her lips, carefully lined in black, hide a tongue sharper than any dagger. She has been in the girl's head for over 7 years.
It's honestly hard to believe that Ella has been in my head for that long. She came to me at a somewhat nebulous time, when I was a passionate writer without any finished manuscripts to show for it. I was certain I wanted to be an author and even more certain it was an impossible dream. I got nearly 20,000 words into her book before I acquiesced to that small, negative voice in my head that does everything within its power to hold me back. Last night, I was looking through old Word documents when I came across Ella's story. A wave of nostalgia and gratitude swept over me. Of course, as I reread her book, there were lines that made me cringe. Words were misused. Telling eclipsed showing. Filter words peppered the narrative to an egregious extent. It was raw, unpolished. The girl, just entering her second decade of life, didn't know what she was doing. But someday, she would. That girl had no idea that in just a few short years, she'd be finishing manuscripts and signing with an agent. Undaunted, she wrote into a void for the love of her characters. For the love of Ella DeGray. I am indebted to Ella for sustaining my passion. Maybe the ghost-obsessed girl will return the favor by finishing Ella's book, seven years later. After all, seven is a lucky number.