Writing

Mental Health Perks Of Writing Steampunk Novels

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I went through every hardship known to man when I decided to drop out of university and pursue my dreams of becoming a writer.

For one, my parents stopped giving me money. They said that they did not want to help me fulfill a “botched dream.” Although it stung to realize that my family had no plans to support my goals, it was understandable. No person in their right mind would usually stop going to school when they were only several months away from graduation.

Since I could no longer ask Mom and Dad to pay for my apartment, I had to look for menial jobs to make ends meet. I became a dishwasher, a busboy, and even a garbage collector so that the landlord would not evict me. However, Lady Luck perhaps turned her back on me because I found my door chained and my clothes thrown right outside of it after two months of being unable to pay my dues.

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Despite all that, I did not crawl back in my parents’ arms. I went from one friend’s couch to another for a couple of weeks while looking for a more stable job. The last thing that I wanted to hear was my parents saying, “We knew this would happen.”

As for my writing dreams, I already finished a fantasy novel at that point. It was about a teenage boy who found out his family had magical powers, but they decided to avoid practicing magic after an accident. I initially thought publishing companies would be fighting against each other to figure out who could publish my novel, but getting rejected by three companies made me realize that it was another fantasy.

Knowing Steampunk Subgenre

After a year of living like that and not getting anywhere close to my dreams, I started thinking of giving up. I told myself, “What’s too difficult with letting Mom and Dad talk my ear off? It’s better to do that and go back to school with a loaded wallet than to continue being practically homeless.”

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However, a day before I decided to go back to my parents’ house, I still tried to publish my fantasy novel. A friend helped me set up a meeting with an agent who supposedly had a lot of contacts. When we met at a café that afternoon, I showed him my manuscript.

After reading a couple of pages, the agent said, “Your narration skills are undoubtedly incredible, considering you have not received formal training in writing. The story flowed smoothly, too, and the characters were interesting from the beginning. But the problem is, there are already plenty of individuals aspiring to be the next J.K. Rowling or at least Rick Riordan out there. What many publishers wanted was a steampunk novel.”

The agent gave me so much to think about after our meeting. However, the biggest question was, “Am I ready to focus on a new genre?” The only thing I knew about steampunk was that it mixed futuristic technology with retro fashion. It felt daunting to write an entire novel about something that I did not consider interesting until then.

Still, because I was in a pinch, I gave it a try.

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Deciding To Write A Steampunk Novel

Writing a steampunk novel was not a smooth ride in the beginning because I was still not thinking outside the box. My editor sent back the manuscript several times for revision, and I wondered again if I should look for another dream. However, she sat me down one day and reminded me that everything was possible in steampunk, as long as there were steam and Victorian flare in the book. I went to sleep while thinking about how I could do that, and then I felt like a different person when I woke up.

I threw the manuscript in the trash and started writing a new novel about a woman who went to look for the hieroglyphs in a gyrocopter. For some reason, I found it incredibly liberating. I became a writer and a reader at the same time and enjoyed creating the book so much. I did not realize the change in my mood until the friend who let me stay on his couch while I was writing commented, “What’s new with you? You’re not gloomy anymore.”

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And he was correct – I did not feel depressed like before. My heart felt light; my head was clearer than it had been in the last few months. After a month, I finished the steampunk novel, and a publishing company picked it up in no time. I could not divulge how much I got paid for it, but let’s say that it was enough to let me relax and write without getting another job for a year. 

Coming Home

I went home to my parents after I got my first paycheck as a writer. I did not do it to boast but show them that I made something out of myself, that my dream was not as far-fetched as it seemed. I was surprised when Mom and Dad hugged me tight and said they were sorry for not supporting me. All was forgiven in the end, and I continued writing steampunk novels since then.