i wrote my friend a story for her birthday

ALYSSA SKVARLA! If you didn’t know, she’s my closest – and my only – writing friend. In freshman year of high school, I had spied her typing on her laptop forming huge blocks of text on Word and I said, “What’s that?” and she said, “Nothing” and tried to cover the screen. After the gradual excitement of knowing both of us liked to write, our friendship took a whole new level. We’d send each other snippets, chapters (Lys has literally written like 4 full-length novels and they’re GREAT), brainstorms of anything (fiction) writing related. In senior year, we started a book blog (booksaf.blogspot.com LOL) and for my 16th and 17th birthday, she gifted me with a 2-part short story with ME as the main character. My very own fanfic. What more could I want.

This year, for her 21st, I decided to return the favor!


Because it’s literally a fan-fiction and personalized around Alyssa, I won’t share it but I can give you details! It’s around ~5600 words, 14 pages. It formed over the course of 15 days. It’s called “The Phantom Barter”. It’s about a girl who accidentally sends herself through a portal while trying to get a trading card at a carnival. It’s the longest story i’ve ever written and the process was quite a magical one. Literally – because I wanted to incorporate magic in there somehow. But I say this because it was the first time I felt like I could finish a story from beginning to end and even though it’s not technically finished (I left it on a cliffhanger), I didn’t feel distraught or stuck in a way that I knew I wouldn’t be able to tell this story. I think being in the Intro to Writing class really helped me. That, and reading a lot. A few tips that I kept in mind while writing: stay in the room & let the story tell itself. I was surprised that I had it in me to write during my free time, just because I always just usually daydream about writing, not actually doing it.

So the settings i remember vividly writing in:

  • the Tustin Market Place Barnes cafe (Lys was actually there with me but she didn’t know i was working on a story for her)
  • the student center Starbucks in one of those high stools against the windows where the sun shined directly on me in a borderline overwhelming way
  • late night in my bed (this was actually when I booked out the first 300 words or so)
  • library cubicle 4th floor
  • and the dirty, stained GOOLDDDENNN COUCH at home that I’m sitting on right now. I find myself to be more productive here than other places.

Day 1 of writing. originally called the story “Ren and Beck”


at the Barnes & Noble Cafe with Alyssa


sunlit at Starbucks

I think lys really liked it. She told me she couldn’t stop smiling and that it made her giddy the whole day and that she reread the story like 3 times and that my writing style flowed well and ….it feels wrong to revel in these affirmations but there’s value in making someone happy. It’s the best feeling. 

I’m gonna list out all the things i was watching/reading/listening to so that you know that my writing was an accumulation of all the art I consumed:

  • I started season 2-3 of The Office and got hooked on Jim and Pam (Sam and Noush don’t like them but whatever)
  • read A Court of Mist and Fury and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and The Song of Achilles
  • got really into DODIE on Youtube. I appreciate and love watching her process of creating music too and her fairy/dreamlike aesthetic with her videos. It inspired me to want to buy a desk on my own (look at my previous post for proof HAHA). Plus, she’s a great artist (“Monster” was what I listened to the most when I wrote the story)
  • I’ve also been watching the booktubers and fiction writers on Youtube (polandbananasbooks)  I enjoy their makeup tutorials with their crafty bold lipstick and outlandish eyeshadow looks because it helps me get into that imaginative headspace for some reason? I also love their writing vlogs (Savanna Brown has ‘Write With Me’ videos; they’re great) because of their desk space and clips of them typing on a laptop (the whole visual of an office space and a word document really gets me lol) 

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