Lisa King: The Thirteen-Year Idea
Updated: Jun 6
When did you know you wanted to become a writer? is a question that’s crossed my plate a few times by now, and I wish I could pinpoint some eureka moment in which the clouds parted and a beam of prophetic sun casted down upon my smiling face, a gentle and encouraging voice whispering from somewhere,
You, lady, should become a writer.
Instead, writing has always appealed to me like a favorite color (green, if you’re curious). I just liked it. I liked the way words looked together and how they sounded; the tempo of a sentence, be it fast and snippy or slow, relaxed. I liked that words could rhyme, or not; have length and presence (like indulgence), or dainty succinctness (like pip). I really liked that words could be used to create magical places that came to life in my imagination with Pandora-like awesomeness and intensity, even if some of those places were terrifying enough to evoke nightmares (that part, I liked less).
Into my late teens and early twenties, I began to experience subtle narratives weaving through my thoughts: plots and characters and questions. My own stories, mingling with my conscious mind like guests at a cocktail party.
So, what if Y2K actually happened, and somehow that affected time—
*Sips electrolyte martini*
Alright, we’re intrigued. Go on.
At twenty-two, I decided it was time to write a book. How hard could it be? I’d definitely read a lot of books. I had a single University English course under my belt, plus a handful of papers judged by my professors to be “good” (and a bunch more that were just “okay,” but I wasn’t looking for confuting evidence). I had the makings of a story in mind: a woman entering a utopic community, only to discover something amiss. A killer plot twist. That was it.
I started writing with impulse, guided by hopes and dreams and an excessive amount of Starbucks lattes. I bought fancy notebooks and ball-point pens; thick-rimmed black writer glasses that looked smart; and stared thoughtfully at the sky (or stucco ceiling tiles in the company of other creatives, with soft jazz leaking in the background and dark roast wafting), waiting for inspiration to shower down upon me like rain.
After twenty-thousand words, I hit a road block. I didn’t know where I was going—or even where I’d been. I gave up swiftly, before regret had a chance to weight in, and hid my disastrous first draft within an inception of folders on my laptop, so deep in cyber memory I could pretend it never happened. Except, the premise for that very first book stuck with me, and over a decade later, an older, more experienced, and wiser (hopefully) version of myself missioned through a labyrinth of writing projects to find it.
Today, those initial twenty-thousand words, penned by an optimistic but naïve young writer many moons ago, just entered the world as Blue Haven, a science-fiction thriller about paradise gone wrong, with psychological and speculative elements.
Now, there’s way too much cruelty and injustice for me to support the notion that things happen for a reason in some flowery, deterministic sense. Instead, there are reason(s) things happen. And the reason I didn’t finish Blue Haven thirteen-years ago is simple: I wasn’t ready; and I’m pretty sure I knew that, even then.
Blue Haven is more than just my second published novel, it’s a full circle writing moment that took thirteen-years to materialize. And that’s okay, because sometimes giving up doesn’t meant tossing in the towel, forever and ever amen; it just means pressing pause. Becoming a writer is less about a single decision point than a continued decision—one we make day after day, by putting words onto paper in pursuit of learning and growing and self-discovering. The path is seldom linear. The trail is twisty and unkempt, steep and arduous (and there are mountain lions), but if you watch your step and take your time, you’ll get somewhere, one day.
About the Author...
Lisa King is a Canadian fiction author and researcher whose work on veteran mental health has been published in numerous academic journals. She holds degrees in psychology and neuroscience, both from Western University. Aside from writing, she enjoys family outings, ample coffee, and unapologetic napping. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and wonky-eyed cat.