I remember the exact moment. It was December 27th of 2011 and I was house sitting while some friends were away for the holidays. I had eleven adorable cats keeping me company.
Okay, admittedly, I only know the exact day because I looked back at what day my first document was created. I do remember the rest clearly though. I’ve always loved house sitting. It is almost like a little vacation, and this particular year, it was doing wonders to help clear my head after my first semester of college. I was a couple of days in (I’d been spending my time totally vegging out and watching cable and reading) when I was hit with an inspiration. I was going to write a screenplay. My imagination was at a high, and I was seeing the scenes of a story so clearly, it felt natural to write them out as if they were happening in a movie. I was driven initially by a desire to help people – especially Christians – to see the humanity in others.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Eph 6:12
So often we get up in arms against fellow human beings whether they’re actually doing something evil, or they were just unfortunate enough to express an opinion we didn’t agree with. We so quickly shift into and “us” and “them” mentality and put the person into a box and assume we know all about them. We forget that every. single. person. is different and has intrinsic value.
Anyway, I had a premise, I was dreaming up scenes, and then my sister, Ayla, came to visit me the next day and helped me come up with most of the main characters’ names: Bierno, Gillio, Jekka, Aenin, and Rheen. Although I’ve changed a billion things about the story that takes place surrounding them, their characters have stayed pretty much the same since the beginning.
At this point, The Wall was actually circular and surrounding the City of Eilin. The main plot was generally the same, but they ended up in a remote village instead of where they end up now (I’m being cryptic to avoid spoilers), and the climax looked very different aesthetically. It was only about a month later that I decided to start writing it in story form instead of as a script. I just found I could have a lot more fun with the narrative and descriptions that way, plus I had no idea how to write a screenplay properly. I’d been writing short stories nonstop since I learned my letters, so it came naturally. Between school and working and trying to develop a social life, I didn’t finish the first 37,000 word draft until July of 2013 – 1 1/2 years later. When I read that draft now, it feels vaguely reminiscent of the Eilinland we have today, but even back when I finished it I knew it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, so I took to hack-and-slashing it and started over.
Around the same time, I met my future husband and also moved with my family from the home I’d lived in since I was 2 yrs. old. Oh, and I finished school. Needless to say, writing kind of moved to the back burner and stayed there for a while. I picked away at it as I thought of it and had time, and I finished restructuring it January of 2015 when I finally gave copies of it to a few people I was close to. Now I had pretty much the same story that’s going to be launching next month, just a lot rougher and with gaping holes. It was still only about 38,000 words.
I got the feedback from my ‘beta readers’ and started working on a new draft that March. Here things came to a screeching halt and it mostly sat for the next two years as I worked a few different jobs, moved into an apartment with a friend, got engaged, planned a wedding, and got married. The wedding was August of 2017 and I think it was maybe two months or so later that I pulled Eilinland out again to see where things were at. I started meeting weekly with my now sister-in-law who is also a writer, and I starting making headway again. I addressed the daunting, gaping holes that I’d left, and the story fleshed out nicely at over 60,000 words which was my goal. Then I learned about Amazon’s self-publishing services and started playing around with setting up an account and things just kind of took off from there. I’ve felt like I’m kind of just along for the ride since then. Over the past six months, I’ve had several more people read it, I’ve read it myself several dozen times, I’ve made some major changes, many minor changes, and I feel like I finally have a story that I’m pretty okay with (which is a big deal for a perfectionist).
This book has seriously changed my life and the way that I look at the world. I just hope it can make a difference for other people as well, even if that difference is only a brief escape from reality into a fanciful world.