My fingers clench and my shoulders stiffen when people ask me about my inspiration behind my first book, “Zella: Curses and Conquerors.” I wince because in the moment my thoughts rush back and forth from what I want to reveal and what I want to keep personal. I ask myself in the short seconds before answering; How much do I want to tell? Do I come out and say it came from a place of pain? Or should I just be safe and say I love fantasy adventures so I wrote one?
It was almost exactly a year ago when I sat at this very laptop I’m writing on now to write just one scene. A vision I couldn’t get out of my mind.
I had graduated from college a couple months earlier and was telling my peers about my dream of starting my own brand. My friends from college were always supportive of my dreams, but now that I was in the real world I hit a negative wall from the people around me.
I was receiving comments such as “It’s lonely at the top.” “You know most girls your age are married with two kids.” “Yeah its good you have a plan, but just wait until Prince Charming shows up and you’ll forget all about this.” I continued to receive passive statements of resentment and the continual implications that if I pursued this career I would be forever alone. I eventually stopped sharing my plan when I realized I was only going to be shot down for wanting to try something unordinary for a girl with my upbringing.
I had a side job of cleaning my church at the time, and one day as I was moping the floors the negative comments began agitating my thoughts. I was thinking of all the other girls out there who were dealing with the same disapproval and I knew I had to push through.
It was then, as I was moping the dinning hall and rinsing the dirty mop that I saw her. A woman, standing on a snow covered mountain. She stood tall like royalty, her dress purer than the snow under her feet. Her body was that of the earth and sky. She was flesh and spirit, and yes, you guessed it…she was standing completely alone.
The negative voice echoed in my mind, “It’s lonely at the top.” She however was unapologetic. Yes, she was alone, but was she lonely? I wondered. The more I watched her I noticed she was gazing off the edge of the mountain into the valley of a beautiful Colorado landscape. The kind I would gaze at when I was kid on a skiing trip with my family. She looked down at the people below and she didn’t need to speak to me, I could feel her spirit. She was made for the mountaintop, but the questions of why? Who made her? rattled my mind.
In what felt like a flash she sprouted wings in front of me and flew off the mountain into the sky. I put the mop down and raced home to draw out the vision. I got out my pencils and my sketchpad and began drawing her. When I finished the drawing, I was disappointed in my lack of talent as a sketch artist and sighed over the vision going untold.
I sat in my chair and closed my eyes and I saw her again. I couldn’t hear her voice, but she was trying to tell me something. She had a dark secret and she was cursed somehow. The world had cursed her to never be loved, because of what she was. No matter how many times she had saved the world it saw her as a monster. She was a hero, but only known and seen as evil folklore.
She however was so beautiful to me. I became infuriated that she was cursed, and no one loved her. How could they not see what I see? Someone has to see her! Someone has to love her! I almost shouted out loud in my bedroom. Then I saw him. A risk-taking businessman looking at the same landscape for which she was cursed.
I opened my laptop and pulled up a word document. I had only the intention of writing out the scene where he first sees her. I would soon spend the next three months bent over this very laptop creating, hoping, and cheering for her curse to be broken. I didn’t know who would break the curse, if it would be him, or her or if it would be broken at all. Most of my favorite stories are tragedies, but would her story be a tragedy? Would mine? I had to keep writing to find out.
My attempt to draw the woman I saw…