How a Dragon Saved my Soul: A Heartwarming NaNoWriMo Tale

by Melissa Small

Have you ever tried to write with a dragon stuck in your head, or watch a movie without him complaining about the movie? Well, welcome to my life. Let me explain.

It started few a years ago, after battling through a horrible job, I lost all my muses. Yes, all my muses –  no writing, no will to do anything, they just up and left me. It’s hard to explain that cold emptiness in your head when you’re used to muses being there, and then nothing at all.

This went on for months, and I didn’t realize it was as bad as it was, until I stopped eating and didn’t sleep at all. I became really sick, and had to start by eating basic foods. Slowly, I moved onto more complex foods – like the turkey dinner I missed that year. As for sleeping, meditation is a blessing.

Then, I finally found the strength to quit my job and I took time off from work. At this point, I spent most days alone at home, bored, watching TV with the dog, and doing nothing. All the nothing helped get my body back up and running again, but something was still missing from my life.

With my body back in action, I was able to sleep through the night, and I started dreaming again. At first, the dreams came in small sparks, then soon full stories in colour filtered through. A story emerged from these dreams. That’s when I heard his voice for the first time. Red’s voice. I decided to keep a notebook by the bed to write down ideas from my dreams. We worked together: he healed me, and I helped him tell his story.  Without him, I’m not sure where I’d be now … he helped heal my soul, mind, and body.

You may ask, what does this have to do with writing? Well, Red is this loud voice that I hear when I write. He was not supposed to be one of the main characters at first. Tia (Tabatha) was to be the narrator, but Red didn’t like to share the spot light (still doesn’t). So, when I started to write the story down, he took on a larger role.

Beginning with story ideas, characters, creatures, and languages, I built worlds full of dragons, magic, and adventure. After that, well, the dragon took over. It was very hard to quiet him when it was another character’s turn to talk. So, a few times I would catch myself writing something that character would never say – but Red would. I’d grumble and yell at the dragon. I’m sure the dog and cats thought it was them a few times. So I had to give them treats. Poor dears.

As for what kept me motivated and finally helped heal my broken spirit, it was most definitely that loud-mouthed dragon. He never shuts up and always has to have the last word. He put his huge wings around me and through his muse, he helped make me whole again.

Last NaNoWriMo, I put Red to task. We finished his first book on November 29, 2019, with over 52,000 words; but sadly, due to my slow internet, it didn’t get posted. I didn’t know until December 1st. Shock hit first, and then I was heart broken again. I thought I’d failed. Worse, I thought I had failed Red. He had done so much for me, and all the hard work we’d put into bringing his tale to life ended with a registration error.

But the NaNoWriMo people were fantastic; they didn’t leave me—us—behind. I was still able to register my book Dragon’s Among Us: Hatcher’s Moon and claim that prized certificate which now hangs on my wall in honour of that sarcastic, jerk of a red dragon, whose magic made me whole again. 

This year, 2020, has been hell for many people. I lost my job in March because of the virus and that was another blessing in disguise. I have had the time to write and edit. I have written over eight short stories and published them all. One story is up for a competition, and I find out in December from Polar Expression if it wins or not. And for NaNoWriMo, this year, I’m starting the second book in Red’s series, aiming for at least five books in total. I just love this dragon to pieces, and without him I would not be writing stories.

Always hug your dragon.

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