I have always loved stories, and I have wanted to write a novel since I was in the first grade. There was a period of time where when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, “J.K. Rowling”. It’s been a dream that has continued throughout my years of creative writing classes and workshops at K. Sharing work with fellow writers and amazing professors in those classes gave me the confidence and motivation necessary to realize that becoming an author is my aspiration in life. That’s why I thought the Senior Individualized Project (SIP) was the perfect opportunity to finally write my novel. Getting up the motivation to write a whole book isn’t easy, but with SIP deadlines, a helpful advisor, and a love of writing, I thought I’d be able to accomplish this seemingly impossible task.
I started working on the novel in Advanced Fiction Workshop in the spring of my junior year. I planned out the story I wanted to write, created character profiles, and decided on a format for the novel. With the help of my workshop group, I began to craft what would become a 250-page project. Throughout the summer, I continued to plan the novel. By the time fall rolled around, I was writing like the wind. Meeting deadlines was, of course, difficult at times. But I was doing something I am very passionate about. When inspiration eluded me, I powered through, with the help of espresso and movie soundtracks. It was exciting to see a story that had existed in my mind becoming a reality on the page. With my advisor’s feedback and constant encouragement, I was able to finish 250 pages by the deadline.
Turning in my SIP was a bittersweet experience. Even though I enjoyed the process of writing, I was disappointed because I didn’t complete the novel as I had planned. The project turned out to be a little bigger than I had planned, and in the end I didn’t have enough time to finish it. I am very happy with what I have accomplished, though. I have never written 250 pages in so little time. My advisor was proud of my project as well, and ended up awarding me Honors. I had never thought that a small story in my head could become such a huge part of life. And the narrative of my novel has become very close to my heart. This will probably make me sound like a crazy person, but I know the characters in the story so well now that they feel like real people to me.
I set some lofty goals for my SIP. Even though I didn’t fully reach the goals as I had planned, I produced the best piece of writing of my life. I think it’s worth it to send out to do something extraordinary and seemingly impossible when you have an opportunity such as the SIP. Even if you don’t get all the way there, you might get closer than you ever thought you could.
Natalie Martell – K’16