By Eliza Kent
From a young age, I always enjoyed doing creative things. Most of the time that was drawing. Sometimes I would write short stories and illustrate them. I created an entire picture book series about my dog, Lola. The stories centered around her doing fun and silly “undoglike” things like Lola Turns into a Wizard. Writing my first book - my first real book - changed my life so much.
I don't exactly recall how the idea for my novel came to be - it just sort of blossomed in my head over a really long time. I was about eleven when I first came up with the plot for Never Should Have Left. I started writing it a few months later. I started writing but wasn’t making much progress. At the time, I didn't really know how to plot an entire book. I also didn't know how to write very well. I got discouraged and stopped writing. But I couldn’t forget about it. It grew in my head and the more I thought about it, the more connected to my characters I felt. But I still had this feeling of being too scared to pursue it.
That is, until I came across it one day when I was going through my computer and cleaning out my files. When I opened it and re-read everything, I realized what I had and felt excited about what it could be. By the end of the day, I had written a good twenty pages.
I still wasn't completely sure about the plot, so I started thinking a lot about what I wanted to happen. I created new characters and got a really good sense of how I wanted to develop the story. This process took about a week. I don’t think I got much else done during that time! But it was all worth it and by the end of that week I felt amazing.
Looking back at my novel now, it’s so much different than what I would've imagined it to be three years ago. It's crazy to think that if I hadn’t stumbled upon those five pages, I wrote a few years ago, I might never have written Never Should Have Left or learned how much I enjoy writing. The experience has been so great that now I’m thinking I might want to pursue writing as a career. I’m happy and proud that I’ve completed my first novel at such a young age, but it has come with its challenges.
I’ve struggled with people telling me what they think I should write about. They’ve expressed concern about the theme of my book and told me that I should write about “better things like puppy dogs and rainbows” because that’s what a young lady should do. It’s very upsetting when you work so hard at something and then the people who are supposed to support you don’t. I’ve never enjoyed writing lighthearted stories - it's just not my personal preference. While I understand people have different opinions about what they like to read and write, nobody should every tell a writer what they should write.
My story has female leads with both the protagonist and antagonist of the novel being strong, independent women. So, I was really razzled when another person told me I should have written my book as a romance novel and changed the plot of my story so that the male character “saves” the female character. This would be a completely different story! The main character, a young female, is exactly who she is because she learned how to fight from her dad, as assassin. Her dad taught her his skills trained her to be an expert in how to use knives, guns, etc. So, to say that she should switch roles and become the damsel in distress comes off as extremely sexist to me. Giving input on writing is one thing but telling a writer they should change their entire story is completely different.
I love being a writer. Writing is really fun and allows me to express myself. I’m really excited about my next novel and I’m breaking a lot of “rules” in it. I’m never going to let those rules and those people telling me what to write get to me because I’m not writing for anybody besides myself. To be a good author you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Sure, you may need a plot, but a plot can be whatever you want it to be.
Writing is an art and like all art, you can do whatever you want. My advice to any author would be to “know the rules and break them.”
About the Author
Eliza Kent is the fourteen-year-old author of Never Should Have Left. Never Should Have Left is a thriller about a young girl who discovers some pretty shocking stuff about her family and is forced to fight her way through it. Never Should Have Left was first published in paperback in July 2019 and is available on Amazon. As a homeschooler, Eliza dedicates much of her time to writing- she’s already hard at work writing another novel! Follow Eliza on Instagram @elizarkent.