By Jill Miller
Video games get a bad reputation for being a waste of time, but in some cases, they can spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.
That is the case for Stephanie Traylor, sophomore English major, who already has fostered a writing career because of video games.
At 13, Traylor began writing fan fiction based on the video game, “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic,” and posted her work on a fan fiction website.
Her stories received good reviews from [online] community members, Traylor said, “So I was like, ‘Maybe I [can] do this writing thing.’”
In November 2009, Traylor participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The event began in 1999 when a group of 21 people decided they wanted something to do.
NaNoWriMo is sponsored by various organizations and companies, such as Amazon.com’s CreateSpace and individual donors.
The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in a month and then share it with other participants online. It was in 2009 that Traylor began to work on her first published novel, “Diary of an Amnesiac,” which took a little less than a year to complete, she said.
The futuristic “Amnesiac” is about a group of teenagers who suffer from a genetic disease that causes them to forget what happens each day. As a result, characters keep detailed diaries of everyday happenings.
The story is told from the viewpoint of one teenager.
If a contestant completes the 50,000-word challenge at the end of NaNoWriMo, one of the prizes awarded is a “proof copy,” or a copy of the book made to proofread, Traylor said.
An Amazon company called CreateSpace publishes these copies.
To use the free version of CreateSpace, writers must submit completed manuscripts, formatted to specifications, as well as cover art.
CreateSpace will then publish the novel and list it on Amazon.com. Commission for publishing the book comes from book sales.
“The nice thing about CreateSpace is they don’t make you worry about inventory,” Traylor said. “As you sell a book, when somebody places an order, they print it at their place and ship it to them.”
Traylor’s sister, Emily, designed the cover for “Diary of an Amnesiac.”
Her mother, Betsy Traylor, proofread the novel. Her father, Wiley Traylor, helped with the plot.
Overall, the publishing process took about a month, Traylor said. She published “Amnesiac” in the summer of 2011. It sells for $16.25 on Amazon.com.
Publishing “Amnesiac” was only the beginning of Traylor’s career. Although she started working on another novel, “Paralysis: Part One,” in September 2009, it was not published until summer 2012.
“Paralysis” is the story of a young woman reared under a one-world government in the year 2050 to assassinate traditionalists.
Traylor is working on part two of that novel. In total, “Paralysis: Part One” and “Paralysis: Part Two” have taken more than three years to write.
Traylor also is working on an “Amnesiac” sequel and a science fiction work whose working title is “Among the Smears of Black and Red,” but she doesn’t get to write as much now as she did in high school, she said.
“I wish I had more time to write,” Traylor said. “And sometimes I just get so busy that the inspiration just stops.”
Traylor said she has sold fewer than a dozen of her books, but she is proud of having those books in her hometown’s library.
Christine Bailey, director of composition support, has worked with her since Traylor came to Union.
Bailey said Traylor writes with skill beyond her years yet is open to criticism.
Traylor said she wants to eventually teach creative writing at Union after getting her master’s degree in fine arts. She is considering the University of Arizona at Tucson.
Traylor said she hopes to continue writing but not as a career writer.
Bailey said she can see Traylor becoming a professor someday.
“She has that desire to continue writing, to continue bettering her craft,” Bailey said. “But she also has that desire to share what she knows and her ability to write with others.”