Tomorrow, I will fly off to Ireland. This will be my second visit to this beautiful country with stunning nature and majestic ruins from times unrecorded and times somewhat better recorded but vague enough to inspire.
And indeed, inspired I came back from my first road trip there, and, soon after, I started on a novel. This second visit to Ireland is a pilgrimage back to a place that lit a literary spark inside me. I know I’m not the first and won’t be the last to feel this way about Ireland. Only the centuries know the exact number of monks, scholars, and writers that have made a similar pilgrimage. But, really, the story of how I started my fantasy novel is bitter sweet.
The initial idea struck when I saw the Book of Kells. Still, I didn’t feel compelled to immediately sit down and write. I let the little idea simmer. At first, I thought it would make a nice short story.
At a writing conference that same year, I ended up in a situation where I had to pitch my current project. I realized what was going on too late and couldn’t walk away. The embarrassment! I had nothing to pitch because I had just given up on a project and felt pretty downcast about it. But I would not have admitted this for the world, so I racked my brain for a story I could pitch as my turn neared and neared.
I remembered my simmering idea then, so I pitched it as a book just so I had something to say. Later on, during that same conference, the agent who heard the pitch asked for the manuscript, and when I said it wasn’t ready to be shown, he asked for the first three chapters. And when, now heart-sick, I said that I can’t even show that, he asked for the first chapter. I was far too embarrassed to tell him the truth. I know I should have. It must have been one amazing pitch. Too bad I can’t remember it anymore.
It’s some years now since the conference, and though the outcome probably deviates from the original pitch, this novel is no longer a mere idea in my head, but a living, breathing work that I have lovingly written while getting a PhD, moving a couple of countries, getting married, and having a baby. Good ideas are hardy. This one has endured it all.