If you enjoy my writing, I have something surprising to tell you: you have a lot to owe to Taylor Lautner. Sound a bit strange? Well, I can explain how that all happened, but it’s a bit of a long story.
After I graduated from college in 2009, like most college graduates, I was broke. I originally planned to move to Vancouver after graduating, but seeing as I had not a cent to my name, I needed to replenish my funds before I could even hope of making that happen. And so I did what many recent college grads did… returned to my hometown to live rent-free at my parents for a few months.
At first, it wasn’t so bad. I have a pretty good relationship with my parents, but the town is definitely on the small side. As such, it can be pretty boring, which was exacerbated by the fact that many of my friends had moved away. And to make matters worse, the few months I had planned to stay fell right in the middle of winter. If you’re not aware, my hometown is in Northern Canada (officially — we even get a tax credit for living there!), and when the winter hits, it’s not pretty. It regularly drops to -40 celsius, and when that happens everything pretty much crawls to a stop. As you might imagine, people prefer to stay indoors.
Aside from braving the bitter cold to go to work, during most of my free time I was essentially trapped indoors, with no one to see and nothing to do. But this was a problem I had faced before, and usually when I’m bored I get creative. I drew a lot, and worked on websites, but those were my usual channels of creativity, and I wanted to try something new. So when November rolled around, I was drawn into particpating in NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month, where you write a novel (or at least 50,000 words of a novel) in a 30 days.
I had written things before, but nothing in any sort of long form. Writing a novel was the distraction and challenge I was looking for. And after being goaded into writing a vampire novel by my brother, I had a topic. After many dark winter nights of work, I “won”, managing to produce the minimum 50,000 words of a book that would eventually become my first novel… At Death’s Door.
Well, after I had finished it, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. As you might imagine, writing a book in a month doesn’t produce the most polished piece of work… To say it needed editing was an understatement. But even if it did undergo a massive edit, I personally didn’t think it was good enough to be submitted to any sort of agent or publishing house. So while I was pleased with myself for actually completing a novel, I didn’t see any future for At Death’s Door. So I shelved it, and returned to earning the money I needed to escape that wintery hell.
Fast forward several months. I had accomplished my goal of moving to Vancouver, and was now looking for work. Unfortunately finding decent work had turned out to be a bit harder than I had expected; I had gotten a temporary job, but it was hardly ideal. It was far away, physically demanding, and soul-sucking. In addition to that, it’s schedule was wonky, so I didn’t get to see much of anyone. Once again I ended up having a lot of free time on my hands, and not a lot to do with it.
I took up writing again, but I just couldn’t seem to find the motivation that had taken ahold of me during NaNoWriMo.So I just spent a lot of time on the Internet. In an instance of pure happenstance, I stumbed across an article on Oh No They Didn’t about which stars were the most popular in fanfiction. Intrigued, I clicked through, and read that Taylor Lautner was the celebrity at the top of that list.
My first reaction was to call bullshit. There was no way Taylor Lautner had the most fanfic about him. There was no way in hell.
I was sure of this because as a teen I was heavily involved in several fandoms, and I have read my share of fanfiction. As such, I spent a lot of time on FanFiciton.net, which was the hub for fanfiction. I knew that site very well; I knew that it was active, massive, and housed years upon years of works created by fans. And though I was well aware that Twilight had become a cultural phenomenon, I doubted that this new fandom — while particularly enthusastic — could’ve produced anything that would’ve eclipsed the sheer amount of work on there. There was simply no conceivable way that Taylor Lautner was on the top of the list of most popular celebrities in fanfiction.
But the article wasn’t referring to FanFiction.net. It was referring to a new site that I had never heard of… A site called Wattpad.
While I had given up my vice of fanfic a while ago, I was curious about Wattpad. Initially, it was because Wattpad was a Canadian start up, and as a Canadian and a web designer/developer, this was relevant to my interests. So I ventured forth to check out the site. And I found that, yes, as the article said, Twilight fanfiction was very dominant there. But… so was original vampire fiction.
Before stumbling across Wattpad, I had been hesitant about sharing At Death’s Door. I was sure no one wanted to read it; I couldn’t even prevail upon anyone to just get feedback. Not that I blamed them… it was rough, and it wasn’t exactly their cup of tea. But Wattpad’s audience seemed to be drawn to exactly the kinds of stories like At Death’s Door.
What did I have to lose? I signed up, and started posting… but not under my own name. It wasn’t that I didn’t want my name attached, or that I was embarassed that someone would find out that I wrote vampire books. That’d be pointless, because I had already told everyone I knew that I had written a book about vampires. But as I mentioned above, I’m a web designer and I was actively looking for work. And, as you can imagine, people who work in web design will Google you. I was fortunate that I dominated my current Google Search Results with examples of my work… and I didn’t want to mess that up. I wanted to keep designer-me and author-me a bit separate.
So I created the pen name of Yvette Russell, kept writing, and have now been posting on Wattpad for nearly four years; I have over ten thousand followers and books with over three million reads. I now truly consider myself a writer, and I can only imagine what the next few years will bring.
It can be funny how life works, huh? So if you ever meet Taylor Lautner, you can tell him I say “thanks!”