Fifteen years ago, in a big blue house in South Georgia, a 19-year-old girl was on Christmas break from college and her best friend talked her into writing a story about the Backstreet Boys.
The story was named “Back At One” (named after the Brian McKnight / Mark Wills song) and it was about a country singer who’s name started with a K and ended with an H and how she met Nick Carter at the Grammy’s and they fell instantly in love. It was very “Mary Sue” (what the fan fiction world calls a character that is based on the author). It wasn’t written great at all.
The girl had always received high marks in English classes in high school and her first year in college (except for when she failed the first semester of 9th grade English – but that’s because the teacher was an evil witch). Content wise, the story was something that could have happened on “The Young and the Restless” or “Days of Our Lives.”
But the girl kept writing. She ended up dropping out of college due to depression and she just kept writing. She wrote and wrote and wrote until she got better at it. People started reading her stories and visiting her website that she decided to change the name to after the line in the Backstreet Boys’ song “Shape of My Heart.”
The depression got worse and she contemplated and maybe even tried to end it all a few times, but wrote her way through it, expressing her feelings in stories that may not have been great, but it helped her. Then Nick Carter went solo and she went to way too many solo shows. She’s still not sure how she afforded to do this because she wasn’t in school and had no job except for random babysitting, but she did. Completely and utterly depressed, all she really did was attend Nick Carter’s solo shows.
Until a conversation with Mr. Carter that changed everything in 2003.
She enrolled back into college, majoring in Creative Writing. She slowly moved away from writing Backstreet Boys fan fiction while focusing on school and started writing other things, such as NASCAR fan fiction or just original fiction. She changed her major to public relations for a semester, before finally deciding on video production.
But because of writing fan fiction, because of that conversation with Mr. Carter and because she started college back, she joined the college newspaper staff as a web editor just to earn a little extra money. Drama happened one night a year into her job and half the staff was let go, making the girl jump into writing for a newspaper and designing the paper itself.
She ended up winning a College Press Association award, two Journalism excellence awards from the university two years in a row (the first to do that) and ended up being offered a job two days before graduation at a newspaper. She went on to win several Associated Press awards for writing and design and photography.
And that girl was me.
My life might not have turned out the way it did if I wasn’t talked into writing a story about my favorite Backstreet Boy back in 1999. It all kind of lined up and I do believe in destiny and believe that it all happened for a reason. I’m happier now than I have ever been. I wouldn’t have met several of my best friends. To be honest, I may not even be alive if I hadn’t started that one story and kept with it.
The real lesson of this? Do what makes you happy. Whether it’s writing fan fiction or scrapbooking (I don’t know, I’m just trying to think of another hobby), you have to do what makes you happy. Some people might think writing fan fiction is silly, or even weird, but to some people, like myself, it changed my life.
And I will forever be thankful to the Backstreet Boys, especially Nick Carter, for that.