Today, we introduce a new column on The Silver Petticoat Review, “Climbing the Alpine Path.” This blog column will focus on the journeys of Autumn and myself as we pursue writing books and screenplays. We’ll share what we experience and learn along the way, and hopefully help others out there trying to do the same!
If there was one character I related to most as a child it was Emily Byrd Starr in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon series. The Alpine path that Emily, and by extension, Montgomery describes is a path I’ve always felt myself on. Climbing with an intention to reach some greater height through writing and creativity. In other words, the Alpine path is a symbolic representation of Emily’s (and Montgomery’s) writing career.
I too always felt connected to this metaphorical path. Though I admit to my journey being a long, slow process. Along the way, I’ve always found myself losing focus or stopping to smell the flowers. My pace like everything else in my life is like that of a snail. Beyond that, I also have this compulsive need to make every step perfect. Perfectionism – a flaw that has been both a detriment and blessing simultaneously.
My writing journey has also taken many twists and turns as I continue to search for my voice. As a child, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. At first, I thought I could be the next Shirley Temple by becoming an actress. But it wasn’t really acting I loved. It was creating and telling stories and making others happy. I recall my idyllic youth in Maine where I was able to run free with my siblings and friends. There, I was allowed to let my imagination run wild. And with my creative siblings, we put on plays and filmed them on our video camera. We were like the King children and Sara Stanley from Road to Avonlea always on a new adventure.
Over time, however, acting became less and less intriguing as I became more introverted and private. When I was 11, we moved from Maine to Arizona. And it was a dark, sad time for me that continued for quite a few years. My sister and I experienced extreme bullying and I began to retreat emotionally. I built a fortress of protection locking everyone out. And yet, the desire to create and succeed only became stronger. But acting really wasn’t for me anymore. Still, the magic of film continued to inspire and intrigue. As did books. Reading was like time traveling to different worlds and times. I found Emily when I was 11 and she continues to be one of my favorite literary heroines.
Ultimately, my storytelling interests evolved into an interest in screenwriting. I see and imagine very visually. In college, I filmed a couple of short films with friends though I admit to not having much technical skill. And then ultimately began writing a screenplay. I finished the screenplay (which I co-wrote with my sister, Autumn) and received a little bit of interest in it. The script even helped me be accepted into the UCLA Professional Screenwriting Program (though I couldn’t ultimately attend for unforeseen personal reasons at the time). But the script always felt unfinished to me. I needed to mature, evolve, wait to rewrite the story I had in my mind. The earlier drafts written in my youth were too immature to really capture what I wanted to say. I needed to experience more life. So, I purposely put it aside.
Over the years, I collected research, imagined scenes, wrote backstories and histories of the characters, visited places, talked to historical societies and experts, and almost feel ready to finally rewrite it and finish it.
But over time I realized something, I don’t just want it to be a screenplay, I also want it to be a novel. Writing books was always something that interested me even though I believed in my younger days that film was my path. But I realized that both literature & film (and by extension TV) can be a part of my journey and writing career. (I even began video editing which helped me hone in on my interests and voice and storytelling strengths.)
Still, with no real connections or clue how to make it in an evolving industry, I decided I needed to create a unique path for myself. And that’s when The Silver Petticoat Review came into creation. With my twin sister and a good friend, we decided to create a blog where we could write about the type of stories we loved while also working on our own stories in our free time.
And that’s when doors began to open. From there, I accidentally fell into the world of media journalism and magazine writing. Apparently, I had a natural knack for it. I had been told by a few teachers I have a strong journalistic voice but journalism in and of itself never interested me when I was a teenager or even in college (I earned a Humanities and Film degree). I thought it was all about politics and being pushy. I’m way too nice and I always preferred fiction.
But over time, I realized that writing about real people in a positive way and about stories was also storytelling – just in a different way. Plus, writing for magazines and blogging gives you a constant avenue to be a writer and hone your craft.
And through my experiences writing for various magazines and especially my experience running this blogazine, my ideas have grown so much bigger than I could have ever dreamt as a little girl. And it’s incredibly exciting. I dream much more about collaboration now, for example. And while I have always been interested in other cultures, travel, and languages, through my new experiences, my voice, interests, and career goals have evolved.
So, where am I at in my writing journey today?
Over the years, I have written flash fiction, short stories, a screenplay, hundreds of articles, numerous blog posts, and have notebooks and word documents filled with so many ideas I couldn’t possibly count. Not to mention, the unfinished novels I have on my computer.
So, today, I feel it’s finally time to take the next step on my journey on the Alpine Path. That next step involves three things:
- Rewrite my screenplay – the most personal of my projects (which I also plan to later write as a novel.) This screenplay is a collaboration with my twin sister, Autumn. We collaborate/co-write on many of our writing projects.
- Finish one of my books and work toward getting it published. This will also likely be a collaboration.
- Write about my journey on this blog. Autumn will also be documenting her journey as well.
To pick up my snail pace when it comes to finishing my screenplay and a book, I need to work on focusing and not getting distracted by the busyness of life. And believe me, my life gets incredibly hectic. No one tells you how hard that working a regular full-time job, running your own magazine, fulfilling life and family responsibilities, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, finding the time to write your book, and more, really is! Did I mention making time to have fun?
For me, I find it’s easy to burnout and I often fail at some of these things. Especially because I tend to take on too much and try to be “perfect” all the time! I’ve learned over the years, however, that I can’t be perfect. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to be “you” despite what anyone else thinks. And it’s okay to pursue your dreams. I will succeed on my climb on the Alpine Path. Maybe I already have. It is about the journey after all.
But to start this next part of my journey, I first need to make a choice. Which of my many ideas should I choose to focus on?
At the same time, I’ve also decided to take a Master Class from popular author, James Patterson. Why? Certainly, not because crime is a genre I ever plan on writing. But because I feel I can learn something from him. And I think it will be a great way to kick myself back into gear and FOCUS. I’m at my best as a student because assignments push me to finish rather than procrastinate and come up with excuses.
Plus, it’s time for me to put aside my fears and open up. I need to be willing to let people hear my voice and even see my pain on the written page. Yes, I cringe even now at that thought. Ironically, even though I run this blog, I am about as private of a person as you can imagine. You’ll notice I rarely share personal things and I NEVER talk about feelings.
All those years of hiding myself as a protective barrier due to hardship, tragedy, and mistrust, can no longer be the reason I don’t put my own stories out there. All the reasons I gave up pursuing acting as a child (there is no way I could show emotion; no really, I’m Cameron Diaz in The Holiday when it comes to crying) will not become a reason for me to give up writing fiction. In the words of Elsa, it’s time to let it go! And I can’t wait to find out what that means.
Make sure to follow me (and my sister) on our journeys as we work toward finishing a book and getting it published! Stay tuned for Autumn’s introduction soon.
Does anyone else relate to Emily and The Alpine Path? If so, what does the Alpine Path mean to you? Let me know in the comments.