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Senior set to finish first novel

Writer won’t let vision disability sideline her literary goals
Megan Elliott
TOURNAMENT READY. Senior Megan Elliott has the cover designed for her novel “The Tournament.” She worked all month to complete the book as part of nanowrimo, a writing initiative.

There was a splash beside me. I turned around. Damn it! The kid fell in. I was the closest and without thinking, I jumped in. I was pretty certain Stone kids didn’t know how to swim. After all, they never went down to the Creek and hardly any of them became fishermen. Saffron’s kid brother must’ve been the first Stone to actually step on a boat in a decade.

The first 60 or so words were easy. Her goal was 2000 today. Two thousand words a day for 30 days. Easy math – that is 60,000 words in one month. One month to one completed novel.

This is senior Megan Elliott’s goal for the month of November. Elliott is writing a novel called “The Tournament” as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). As November ends, Elliott currently has 38,443 words and is still working on her goal.

Elliott’s aspirations are very interesting compared to other girls her age.

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“My ultimate goal is to write a book that will be published,” Elliott said. “Then write and direct the movie version of my book.”

She knows that more people could expand on their talents, and they just don’t.

“I saw on Instagram that one out of three people have the ability to be writers,” Elliott said. “Nowadays, it just seems like life is not as creative. People just express themselves with Instagram posts.”

Her book is part romance, part medieval with a little fantasy.

“It is about a tournament about 100 guys who fight to the death for a princess’s hand for marriage,” Elliott said. “The kingdom values physical strength, bravery and brutality above everything else. A medieval feeling always has a very fantasy, aesthetic vibe. I just like writing in that setting. It takes away modern things like guns and cell phones. It takes out modern technology.”

What makes Elliot’s accomplishment more impressive is something Megan really does not really talk much about. At birth, doctors thought she was blind, but Elliott was diagnosed with nystagmus and optic nerve hypoplasia before she was 1 year old. Both of these visual impairments limit Megan’s sight in a profound way.

“Megan does not let her vision impairment slow her down,” media teacher Emily Meachen said. “She does not see her vision disability as a hurdle to cross. I am not sure if her classmates even know she has vision limitations.”

Her vision is limited due to several conditions, but she is able to use her Chromebook to compose the novel and cover for “The Tournament.”

“My vision problems are just something I don’t let get in my way,” Elliott said. “I have never seen my disability as a problem.”

Elliott receives encouragement from many places. Her mom is the one who let Megan know about the NaNoWriMo incentive. The goal of National Novel Writing Month is to write an entire novel in one month.

“I do have a daily work goal,” Elliott said. “The problem is you can’t self edit. For all writers, the need to be perfect is a problem. If you garbage dump all of your words, you can meet your goal. The first draft is always gonna be bad. You can go back and edit and fix those mistakes.”

Her novel is not finished, but she does not plan to stop at the end of  November. She will work to finish the novel after NaNoWriMo is over.

“Megan loves to tell stories, so writing a novel seems to be a natural progression,” Meachen said. “I love to give her feedback on cover designs for her novel and section breaks. She is a creative person, and I am glad she has an opportunity to turn her thoughts into a genuine novel.”

Elliott is inspired by several well known authors. She hopes to be on the shelves with names like Dr. Seuss, William Shakespeare and Walt Disney.

“My inspiration is Chris Colfer – he was in Glee,” she said. “He wrote ‘The Land of the Stories’ series. I always loved fairy tales. He used the fairy tale characters in his novels.”

Elliott’s life lessons have inspired her themes in her novel. Overcoming the challenges life has handed her makes Megan’s book colored with a realistic look at life. She often fictionalizes the people and situations in her life that cause her frustration.

“Writing is very therapeutic,” she said. “Instead of lashing out at people who frustrate me,  I fictionalize them, and then I kill them off. My story is about murder, but it has lessons in it. There are so many lessons in my novel.  Love doesn’t always win. People are mean sometimes. Life is hard and you have to get through it and not give up.”

This story was originally published on The Voice of the Wildkats on November 29, 2023.