by Amy Flynn
I am not a writer. I’ve never had that “writing itch.” There are stories in my head, but I would much rather tell someone about them than spend hours typing at a laptop. And, truth be told, I never really saw any value in my stories until my husband, Austin, introduced me to tabletop RPGs, namely Dungeons and Dragons, but I digress.
This year, I had the unique and jarring experience of realizing I knew much less about something than I thought: the writing process.
Austin decided that he was going to write a novel last year. “That’s great,” I thought, “He will stay busy during the summer, and I will support him on this quest!” And boy howdy, did I underestimate that timeline. He started writing at the beginning of summer vacation. He had a few chapters done, and then we went on a month trip to Ireland (well, he stayed for a month. I have a job that does not include a three month vacation, and thus could not spare a month of PTO). He wrote during the two weeks I was there with him – almost any moment we weren’t sightseeing or doing other tourist things, he wrote. After I went back home, he spent a week in the isolated village of Grange in County Sligo, writing. Then he went on a week-long writer’s tour. He came home with it “half-done.”
He spent the next few months working on it, and then delivered a Staples-bound copy into my hands in December. A whole half a year of work boiled down into 103k words. And we are still early into the process. It’s been read by three alpha readers (myself included), and a huge chunk of it changed before the last alpha reader’s edits even came in.
As Indianapolis residents, we go to GenCon every year, and this year, most of our GenCon time was spent at the writer’s symposiums offered by the con. It felt like there was an endless amount of information to process regarding the writing and publishing process. So much so that I ended up feeling fairly overwhelmed, and I took a two-hour break from the workshops to listen to the finale of my personal favorite podcast, which resulted in me sitting with well-known author, Patrick Rothfuss (that is a story for another time, and it is much less interesting than it sounds).
Our good friends, Jacob Gillam and Stevi Roberts, joined us for GenCon this year. I knew that Jacob was a writer, because Austin always told me about how much he loved Jacob’s story about a wily necromancer. At that point, Page was not even a twinkle in Austin’s eye, and I would never have anticipated that we would give that story a voice less than a year later.
Jacob is a man of unbridled passion. You hear it in the way he talks, see it in the way he moves (and he never stops moving). He pours that passion into his stories, and it is palpable. That being said, I would not have the same kind of appreciation for this story he has shared with us if not for the crash course in the writing experience I’ve gotten in the last year.
It all culminated during the author interview that he completed with Austin and Josh, voice actor for Page and one of Austin’s oldest friends. While we were not featured in the interview, myself and Stevi (who also goes by Evi), were in the basement listening to the banter. The whole time, Evi, provided me with a running commentary alongside the interview, that I wish we would have recorded. While Jacob talked about his inspiration for “Coyote’s Ballad”, Evi whispered to me that it had been a prompt from her that seeded the idea in his head. As they were talking about some of the challenges authors face while writing, I whispered back to her about the hours we spent talking about Austin’s novel, arguing about what motivations made sense or how two characters would interact in a way that was true to both their natures.
At that moment, sitting on the futon in our cold basement, giggling with my friend, it finally clicked for me that writing is not, and cannot be, a solitary process There are so many more people involved in the process that I could have never anticipated. I think we all have this image of authors sitting in front of a typewriter with words flowing onto the page like sand through an hourglass. We romanticize the process, and attribute the success to the amount of passion and blood and sweat and tears that the author put into their story. And at that moment, Page became more than just a fun divergence for me. Sure, recording and voice acting is fun. The story is, on its own, enthralling. But more than that, Page has the potential to become a major factor in having an author’s story be heard. When it comes down to it, having a story published means the inclusion of more people into the writing process. This, hopefully, results in the story reaching more people and the development of a wider audience. And while we at Page will probably never be comfortable navigating the publishing world, there is one thing we excel at: telling a good story. Page is our way of giving these stories a voice, and becoming part of the story’s, well, story.
A week after we wrapped on “Coyote’s Ballad” and recorded our interview with Jacob, we started on our next story, written by our good friend Bryan Partner. I don’t want to give too much away too soon, because at this point it is a month before you will hear “The Secret Keeper”, and while I am not a writer, I do understand the importance of suspense, but I do want to share what I took away from our recording. We chose to have Bryan record the narration of his story. I had not read a word of it before the recording session, and the experience of hearing Bryan, the author, give voice to his own work, was profound. It really drove home the fact that Page, at its core, was created to shine a spotlight on these emerging authors, and give them the opportunity to share their stories with anyone with a smart phone and a free afternoon, long commute, or even just a few free moments.