Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Author Series #11: Attacked by an Elf by J Andrew Jansen

Have you ever had a  character nag you until you just had to set to work on his or her story? See how this happened to writer J Andrew Jansen. I've had great fortune of seeing this particular (though not cuddly) character of his in action. Read on!

Attacked By An Elf

This is NOT Llaewyn. 
I never wanted to be a writer.

In high school I took only the minimal English classes to graduate.  I focused on electronics and computer programming instead.  I went to college long enough to get an Associates degree in robotics and started an illustrious career in automation.  Everything went great for about 20 years.

One morning I woke up with an odd thought.  A sentence burned into my mind:  "Llaewyn stopped running; he knew he was going to die."

"Hmm," I thought.  "Sucks for him, I guess."  I got up, went to work, and didn't think of it again.  Until the next morning, that is.  And the next.  

After a couple weeks, I finally wrote the damned sentence down and got a few days of peace.  Instead of going away, Llaewyn kept bothering me.  Details started working their way into my mind.  It seems poor Llaewyn is an elf.  He is being pursued (and killed) by an orc named Gelrog.  He was in a swamp.  The swamp was in a forest.  A magical stone.  Casting.  Arrows.  My mind reeled as creatures I never knew forced themselves into my mind.  I was haunted, possessed.  This damned elf would not relent.

And so, intent born of misery brought me to write out a scene depicting the death of Llaewyn.  I still have that document dated August 17, 2008.  I won't share it here, although it is buried in the depths of my blog as one of my older posts.  Needless to say, none of that story still exists beyond an elf named Llaewyn (I had to keep *him*, after all), and an antagonist (no longer an orc) named Gelrog.  

It has been nearly four years and I am still working on that story.  It happens in spurts.  I go several months where I dedicate two hours every day to writing and editing.  Then I have a month where nothing happens at all.  I post on Critique Circle as well as submit to a local group of writers that meets every other Monday.  I don't have anything published, no covers to post, no links to sell anything.  All I have now is a manuscript that I should spend more time editing, and a tale of how it came to be.  

I still do all the old electronics and programming, but am begrudgingly grateful to an annoying, pain-in-the-ass elf named Llaewyn who, as his in-story character portrays, was stubborn enough to force me to listen to him when I least expected or desired.

Thanks for reading! 

I currently work as a Application Engineer / Controls Engineer for a small automation distributor. If you have ever watched “How It’s Made”, I write the programs that control the machines that make stuff. Four years ago, a character snuck up on me and invaded my mind. As revenge, I made him a supporting character whoe doesn't really care for the main character very much, but is forced to help her. My life hasn't been the same.

Visit J's blog at:


  1. Oh, so that's why Llaewyn is so annoying. :D Nice post, Jay. Sending you some love. :)

  2. Those characters who jump inside your head and won't stop yelling are the worst! Nice post. :D

  3. I think Llaewyn deserves credit for kicking your creative self out of bed. :) Strong characters are the bane and the joy of writing. I can appreciate a character that has such a strong desire to be heard. That said, better your head than mine. :) I have enough voices in my skull, thank-you-very-much.
    Kudos for working steadily through the years. I don't think there's a deadline for every story. I worked on one for ten years before it was published. During that time, it sat in a file, seemingly abandoned. In the end, I had to wait until it was ready to be finished.

    Great lesson in this post. Steady at the helm.

    I admire your patience and dedication to your writing.



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