Saturday, September 3, 2011
A Novel Effort
Last summer I got hit with a hankering to write a novel. I have read more than a hundred paranormal romance novels in the past two years and each time I have thought, “I can do this!” So I finally decided to put my money where my mouth was and give it a try.
As a former English teacher and a graduate of a very respectable state university with a BS in English Education, I figured, why not? This does not, however, mean that I have perfect grammar or always use the correct word. It means I have some good ideas and I need an editor … and spell check.
I first tried to write a novel several years ago when I had what I thought was a great premise after my Bryon and I helped clean out his grandmother’s incredibly disgusting and packed apartment and moved her into a care facility. We found a lot of crazy and interesting items and papers during our efforts which led to all sorts of questions and potentially mind blowing secrets.
When I got home, I started the novel. I made it about 24 pages and lost steam. I was approximately 276 pages short of a novel. I binder clipped the pages together along with my internet “research” and stuck it all into a folder, likely never to be seen or worked on again. It was dead to me.
Writing a novel is something I think lots of people secretly aspire to achieve. Being a published author would be even better. I think people assume every published author has basically hit the J.K. Rowlings lottery jackpot or can at least quit their day job.
I have been researching this assumption and it turns out it’s not exactly the case. Sure some authors hit the trifecta of published book, best seller, movie deal but most don’t. Some self-publish their literary children and others quietly stuff them into a drawer or the back of their closet under some mothballed sweaters.
It’s not easy but it is exciting to consider the possibilities.
It all starts with page one and ends 300 some pages later. Even if it’s a stinker, at least it’s an accomplishment that has a tangible result; a huge pile of paper with words you typed from your very own brain. No one else can do THAT for you.
Then if you actually finish the damn thing and want to try to publish it, there are a whole new host of obstacles to overcome. Of course, if you never finish, you’ll never have to worry about any of that.
As of today I’m on page 135 and 37,667 words of my third novel attempt. That's fifteen pages from half way. I think this one might actually go the distance. It’s exhausting and exciting all at the same time. It’s also pretty all consuming. I’ve been working on it since August 5th of this month and writing in long hand at lunch time while I snarf down my Subway Buffalo Chicken sandwich in one of the five counties I cover for work and then slinking off to my upstairs office until midnight most nights typing up and amending my copy from the day.
When I finally make it to bed, I can’t fall asleep because things keep happening to my story in my head and those characters just won’t shut up. My brain keeps writing the next scene and finally I have to turn the light back on and write down some notes or it will be lost forever. That’s a good problem to have. I’m not complaining about that.
Today I spent at the Library Station in Springfield for six hours at the Ozarks Romance Author's monthly club meeting. I didn't know what to expect. I went alone with a notebook and a pen and good intentions. It was very inspiring. There were about a dozen ladies and one gentleman there and we all go to critique two pieces of member's works in progress. By the time the speaker arrived around lunch time, the group had swelled to nearly forty authors. Not a one of them was writing paranormal romance. I was encouraged by that.
I thought the two who offered up their work for critique early in the day were very brave. Sometimes I think it's probably mostly forest for the trees stuff. We spend so much time looking at our own work on the screen and printed out copies that we don't see the obvious stuff anymore. Other times I think maybe it's just that we have the whole story (or most of it) in our heads and it doesn't always make it to the written word in it's full context.
I didn't bring any of my story for critique yet. It's still at that embarrassing "work in progress" stage where you don't really know if you want to rip off the swimsuit cover in public yet and reveal your full middle aged, bikini clad glory.
I did get a lot of good information, met some cool people and learned tons today. I can't wait for next month.
Page 135, here I come.