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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

History of the Would-Be Novelist

Most of this was originally published on my website on 7/10/09:

I got the writing bug sometime around the time I turned 10 or 11. I remember being eleven years old and sitting in my mother's dining room with an ancient typewriter, plugging away at my first book. Before I was out of high school I had written three full-length novels. When I say full-length I mean that they were all over 100,000 words. They were terrible of course. Really ridiculous stuff. But I loved writing them and I knew what I wanted to do not just in my life but in spite of whatever else was going on in my life. If I never publish a word I will still continue to write until I croak.

Between eighteen and twenty-two I had a huge crisis of confidence. I didn't write much and everything I did write was quickly abandoned. I have the beginnings of probably five novels from that period of time. By twenty-two I managed to push past all my insecurities and I just started writing, full steam ahead, head down, pushing through, powering ahead. The result was what I consider my first "grown-up" book called The Space Between. It was a 179,000 word opus. I wrote the entire book on pages of looseleaf, typing it up later. I was going to college full-time and working 35 hours a week but the book came to me practically whole. I couldn't get it out fast enough. Still, it took me two years to finish it since I had to write in my spare time.

Today I consider that book to be what brilliant author Heather Sellers calls an "under-the-bed" book. To me the book is just wonderful--I treasure it and cherish it--but it's not saleable. It was good practice though.Before I was even finished writing The Space Between I wrote the first chapter of Aberration. Then the very first line of Finding Claire Fletcher popped into my head and one night I sat down and wrote the first 65 pages of that book in one sitting. The main character commanded all of my attention and I gave it to her.

Again, it took me two years to write the whole book. I worked full-time as a Certified Nurse Assistant while going to graduate school and I wrote the book on pieces of scrap paper I kept in my pockets at all times. If I had a day off I spent it entirely in front of my computer--sometimes writing for 12 hours without taking a break (except to pee of course). In March 2006 I had a draft I thought was ready to be submitted to literary agents.I did a few weeks of research mostly via the internet to determine how best to land myself an agent. I labored over my query letter. Finally I started querying.

I had good responses but didn't get an agent right away. During the four years I sought representation for FCF I made three major revisions of the manuscript. I think that had the book that it is now been the one I submitted to the agents who asked to read it in 2006 and 2007, I would probably have had an agent sooner. But I kept plugging away.

While I was doing revisions, moving from a small town to a big city, finding a new job, working full-time, meeting the man of my dreams and having a baby I returned to writing Aberration which took me two years to finish. (So I am seeing a pattern here--it takes me two years to write a whole novel in my spare time.) Aberration was much more of a struggle to write; it didn't come as easily as the last two books but ultimately I feel satisfied with how it turned out.

I am presently doing a revision of that at my agent's direction.

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