Astrid Jef is the alias of a 30-something writer, podcaster and creator based in Sydney, Australia, but born in Hamme, Belgium. Unlike most writers who have been passionate about writing ever since they could hold a pen, my love story with it has only just begun. Admittedly, I have attempted to start writing something a few times before, but I never got any further than one page. Call it halfheartedly attempts at vomiting out my imagination.
But then, I started listening to “writing excuses”, the podcast featuring one of my favourite, if not my most favourite, authors, Brandon Sanderson. It was during those early days that I made one of the last half-arsed attempts at writing a story. Then, listening to the podcasts stopped for a while, and around last year I picked it back up again. I absorbed all their writing advice and it started to itch to do something myself, but I still didn’t do it. It all sounded like too much work and, yeah, too difficult and impossible to be on a level with these masters of the written word.
But! I discovered another podcast, this one called “Write Now”, by Sarah Rhea Werner. She made the idea of writing bearable, she made it sound.. not easy. She made it sound really difficult, but she also made it clear that it is that way for everyone! Even for the big boys, the published authors, the famous ones, it was and still is hard work. Even through all that, she still made it sound appealing with all the hundreds of brilliant tips she gives, and examples of her own struggles and others’. She was the perfect motivation to write. So together, the write now – podcast and the writing excuses – podcast, they made for the perfect instigator to start writing.
Still, I didn’t write, even though my fingers were itching and my brain was doing that weird thing were you know you’re keen for something but you don’t really know what, you know? But then, the heavens opened up, a beam of light shone down on me, and there it was, the push I needed! Uhm, no, that wasn’t how it happened. The truth is, I was working, sweeping leaves, trying to avoid sweeping the ants among them, when this one question popped up in my head: “What would it feel like to be that ant, so small and getting swiped away and carried off?”
That one question opened up a world of possibilities and while I continued working, my mind was in overdrive. Characters were getting born, a world was created. I quickly noted it down in my mobile because I didn’t want to forget. That evening, or maybe one of the days afterwards, I started writing on what is now becoming my first novel. I have to mention that I was also spurred on by a mate of mine. He has a publishing company (Zombie Pirate Publishing, go check it out!), and they’re mostly publishing anthologies so far. Around the time of my revelation, they’d put out a call for fantasy short stories. So at first I was aiming to ‘just’ write a short story so that I could be included in their fantasy anthology. I quickly figure out that the thing I was writing would become a novel instead.
I challenged myself to my own NaNoWriMo in June 2018, which I failed because I didn’t make it to 50 000 words, but didn’t fail because I wrote everyday which set me on the path of a good habit. The next month I participated in Camp NanoWriMo, and made it to my own set goal of 35 000 words to add to the novel.
Mid august Twitter showed me a way to practice my writing skills; I asked my facebook friends for 3 things: A character, an object, a genre. I would give them a short story in place. I liked this so much that I decided to keep on doing this. Even if I didn’t get any more prompts from people, internet is full of them! I will share all my short stories on this blog, and I’ll also share the progress of the novel and everything else that’s going on in my writing life.
You can follow me on Twitter, which is used mostly for writing-stuff. There’s also an Instagram, I only just started that one up. It has snippets of when I’m writing and what I’m writing. No tediously composed photos, but all real life stuff.