"I am ready to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."
-Winston Churchill

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Meet Jacquitta McManus - Labyrinth's Door:Anyia "Dream of a Warrior"

“All my life, I’ve gravitated to fantasy stories. Stories that I felt I could be a part of and completely immerse myself in … in my imagination.”
-Jacquitta A McManus
As a little girl from KY I didn’t have a lot of outlets that allowed me to explore what drew me to those stories. All I knew was that they were exciting adventures and I loved the experience of the imagination. As I got older and it was time to make a decision about what to do as a career I realized that the only thing that interested me was animation. So I headed off to college for a digital animation degree. I loved computers so it seemed like the obvious choice.
So, I was in college taking my courses… taking art classes, taking animation classes and of course the basics. P.S. I was one of the students who hated taking the basic courses. I was there for animation and that was all I wanted to do. Math… uhhh could have left it.  Spanish… uhhh could have left it. English… well… was never a strong subject for me. Grammatics, (I know, it’s not a real word… but it sounds good.), just didn’t sink into my brain. I didn’t get it. Therefore I didn’t even consider being a writer of stories. My focus was getting into my animation classes. I constantly went to the professor over the department to get in early. Thank you Professor for allowing me to start animation before I really got into my art classes.  (But of course after I started taking my animation classes I could see why having an art foundation was so important. LOL.)
Ok… I’m rambling… back to my background. During the end of my college experience …  and my last couple of semesters … I had my son. Although my grandmother thought I wouldn’t finish, I did. I got my degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Digital Animation with minors in Art and African American studies. Oh yeah, I did a study abroad in Africa. That was a great experience. I also started to get into directing films in my last year … which is still a passion for me and will one day be a reality.
I got married, and we moved to Atlanta and we had another baby, a girl.
It wasn’t until my daughter was growing out of watching Sesame Street and Blues Clues that I realize that there was not a lot of things out there for her. And when I say that I mean … fantasy/adventure stories with characters that looked like her. It bothered me. It bothered me a lot.
But even then I didn’t start down the storytelling path. I remembered writing down a story concept, very very vague with little details about what I visioned on a piece of paper and that was it. At the time I was working on my first short film. I was producing and directing and it consumed me. I had a strong desire for it to be right and I had to prove to myself that I could do what I thought I could do. And I can.  Even then I wanted to direct a fantasy story, I knew that financially it was easier to go the drama route, so I did. I wrote, produced and directed a short film and was pleased. It wasn’t all I thought I could make it but it was good for the resources I had. Everyone who was involved in the project loved it and wanted me to submit it to a film festival, so I did, but only one. It was picked as one of the top five finalists, but we didn’t win. But I was happy with it all the same.
One thing that caught my attention after the film was made and screened was my direction in writing the script. When it was all done I saw places I wish I would have handled differently and some places I wish I would have given more room. And although I wanted to keep it under 15 minutes I wish I wouldn’t have let the story dictate its own length. I think it would have given the story more room to connect with people and would have allowed for more moments that would have rounded out the characters.
Okay… again, enough of my rambling. After the short film I got a lot of questions about the 2nd part and what I was planning to do with the rest of the story. My hope at that time was to turn the storyline into a series. So with the help of two other people I began the process of writing the series. Our goal was to write the first twelve episodes. It was around episode three that I realized that I didn’t like the drama genre as much as I liked the fantasy/adventure genre. So, I picked up a pencil and pad and for two weeks I wrote out an outline for a fantasy/adventure trilogy. It took about six legal pads. I mapped it out by chapters.  I was hooked in the fantasy/adventure genre.
Now the easiest thing for me to do is probably write it in script form. I see things visually and scripts seem to allow me to get what I see out the quickest.  But I didn’t want to do that.  Something inside said write it as a book.
So I brought a writing program to help me organize everything and I got started writing. I got to chapter six and I was pretty happy with what I had. I mean, It was the biggest thing I ever wrote … 30,000 plus words and I wasn’t even halfway through the first book.  It was when I got to chapter seven that I realized that the story wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. And although I had taken the time to write a full outline of the story it was feeling more and more like just a big brainstorm. My character arc for my characters was there but the world was not developed enough. I got stuck on a scene that needed background development and when I looked back at the previous chapters I knew I was going to have to start over … page one word one.
Foundation … foundation … I had to stop and focus on the foundation. I started first by sketching out a map of the world … thank you art classes … and started working on the characters of the story. I hired an illustrator to do some character concepts … yes I have an art minor, but I’m not that good … that’s why it’s just a minor … LOL. I began to read … anything and everything that I could. That journey began at least two years ago. Now I have a complete world with more than a half dozen races, with background histories, locations and all. And I’m loving every minute of its development. I still go back and tweak parts of it … I might even completely rearrange a section of it and although I feel like I’m 90% there with it, I still have to complete the other 10% of it before I really get back into writing the book again. Although last week I wrote 2 chapters in my head, I’ll let it sit there for a while to make sure I really like it.
During the development of the background for my first novel, I’ve started developing other stories as well. All of which are fantasy/adventures; although some YA stories are peeking through. And now I’m proud to announce that my first finished story, and my first MagBook is now published and available for purchase. It has been a journey getting it here but it’s here now.
And one of the rewards of all of this is the feeling of being on the path that I was meant to be on. That can’t be brought or given. It has to be earned.
P.S.S. Oh … I guess I should mention … in between the time after I produced my first short film and when I really got into storytelling I worked as a graphic designer. Learned a lot that will benefit me greatly as I continue to create stories. And it was during that time that the concept for Labyrinth’s Door was born. It was a way to bring all of my experience to something I love.
To great adventures!

No comments: