The Creation of Snowspirit

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” —Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I was born loving books and writing. Even as a preschooler, I remember hiding under my blankets during naptime and flipping pages in various picture books. I couldn’t understand much, but I pretended I could read anyway.

As I got older, my love for books didn’t fade. Reading in the car, reading while eating lunch, reading in class; I was an insatiable bookworm. I often got in trouble at school for devouring books under my desk. Ironically enough, when it came to the awards for who had read the most books by the end of the year, I only received a bronze medal. Since I spent so much time reading, I didn’t get to record all the books I’d read that year—including almost every book in the school library!

I reached fifth grade. For the first time, I started to participate in the National PTA Reflections competition. I won three awards consecutively for three years. One of them was an Award of Excellence for Literature (Ninth District).

I was beyond excited. “Writing is totally my thing! I’m going to be an author!” I thought, not realizing at the time how difficult the task truly was.

The idea for this book came from one of my first grade writing pieces: an assignment for school called “Snowgirl.” My dad thought the story I wrote was creative and fun. He inspired me and helped me continue the idea. Soon, “Snowgirl” became “Snowspirit.”

At first, it was just a small side activity. My younger self considered it a short story meant to entertain my parents and friends, not readers from far and wide. I played around with Snowspirit, and I began to invest more and more time into it by sixth grade.

When I reached middle school, life started to revolve around Snowspirit. The idea infested my mind like a swarm of termites. Loads of research needed to be done in order to make the story logical and realistic. I spent hours studying the characteristics and geography of the deserts, fauna, flora, and astronomy. I also spent a long time looking up information about the horoscopes.

Initially, I created the thirteenth horoscope to make the story more interesting, but later I found out that there is a real thirteenth: Ophiuchus, formerly called Serpentarius. It was the thirteenth constellation of the Zodiac, but it wasn’t included in the Gregorian calendar we use today. The reason for it being excluded was possibly because twelve months in a year was easier to organize, but also because there’s deep-rooted superstition against the number thirteen. I found this interesting, and I almost felt sorry for Ophiuchus . . .

Another example of my research is the discovery of the “golden snake,” which is actually an extremely evolved and poisonous serpent that resides on a prohibited island near Brazil called Ilha De Queimada Grande (Snake Island). I thought the snake was fascinating and ended up incorporating it into Snowspirit as well.

After research, my free time was reserved for editing and revising. I read Snowspirit again and again. Names had to be changed to fit. Ideas had to be thoroughly thought out. Loopholes had to be uncovered, examined, and debated. After door-slamming and frustrated tears, I always tried to work things out. Snowspirit went through countless different revisions and edits before the final product!

One of my editing techniques was to highlight sentences and paragraphs that I planned to delete or shift around. After reading over it a few thousand times, I finally hit the delete key (or decided to keep it). I can’t tell you how many times I went insane over this seemingly simple task. After a while, even the color of yellow highlighter made me cringe!

Another technique I used was to act out parts of the book. With the help of my dad, I performed and tried out the dialogue. After I got a feeling for the scene, I wrote it down. We looked really goofy acting everything out because most of the time, my dad ended up playing the part of Troy, the dog!  

The creation of this book took a toll on my social life, my family, and school. Occasionally, I envied the carefree life of my pals. Many times, I had to abandon plans with friends in order to work on this project. I slept after twelve on busy writing days. Even when vacationing, I brought a manuscript to go over. School was yet another challenge. I juggled excellent grades all while I continued to write.

Now, I look back at the long way Snowspirit has come and laugh. Sometimes it was torturous; other times it was rewarding and satisfying. All my friends, family, readers, and the occasional passersby have put up with my weirdness and sudden writing urges. I’m sure my constant chattering must’ve burned a few ears and years off.

Yes, seven years is a long time to write such a short book—although, for me, it still doesn’t feel like enough!

(for details about Snowspirit, go to www.futurecultures.com)

*updated version (01/01/2015)