Nov 30, 2010

the journey.

Please bear with me as I figure out what this blog is going to be. It really is a trial by error sort of project--an attempt to gather an audience of like minded-folk. Or just cool people who want to read what I write.
This being said, I have a few ideas of the general direction I wish the blog to go. I want this to be a place where I can chronicle my writing journey as it will be in the next few weeks, months, years. I'd also love to share my latest good reads, reflections on general life, advice from other authors... Pretty much anything that strikes my fancy.
That being said, I wish to chronicle a bit of my writing journey. Give a bit of background information if you will.

I don't remember a time when I wasn't writing. Even before I could spell words like "adventure" and "cliff" I was jotting down the stories that took place in my head. I literally used whatever I could find to write in: a trippy Lisa Frank notebook (remember those?) or my dad's old tax records book. Most stories featured talking animals. I wrote creative essays in elementary school that made my teachers shake their heads and wonder exactly what was laced in my cereal.
Along with the love of writing stories came, logically, the love of reading them. I haunted the public library whenever the chance arose, checking out glossy yellowed volumes of Nancy Drew and discovering treasure like Brian Jacques's Redwall series and Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy.
I think I first got serious about writing after reading Ella Enchanted,  the Cinderella story retold by Gail Carson Levine. The whimsy and voice of this re-envisioned Faerytale inspired me to write my first piece of writing of any significant length. What emerged from my fourteen-year old pen was a sixty page Cinderella of my own, and an unquenchable passion to write more.
I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
budding 16-year-old writer
Then I went to an art magnet for my junior and senior year of high school. My major? You guessed it: creative writing. For two years I honed my craft, getting my feet wet with the workshop style of reading and critiquing my peers' work. There were talented writers in my school, girls who had a striking, powerful sense of voice, even at the age of seventeen. I reveled in their company, soaking up all I could from these students who had attended the school since 6th grade. Our final year of high school was dedicated to, and swallowed by our senior thesis. The goal? Write a 100 page book in six months. It sounds easy now, but to a seventeen-year-old loaded with Honors Physics and AP English, the task seemed a bit daunting. As it turned out, the project was easy for me. I passed the 100 page mark before three months. All in all, I wrote 240 pages for my thesis. It was the longest project I'd ever written.
It was also the first project I'd ever seriously considered trying to publish. Of course, when I was in middle school I had grand visions of getting my work snatched up by publishers and being recognized as some sort of child prodigy. This, sadly, did not come to pass. Once I'd finished my thesis, which I'd come to know and love as Shadows Fall, I began to research that painful, drudging process known as querying.
 yes, my thesis was *gasp* self-published. i had no choice in the matter.
I sent one query to the Donald Maass Literary Agency. They rejected it. Not that I blame them. It was awful.
I also sent the whole whopping manuscript to three different publishing houses which happened to accept unsolicited submissions. I ended up hearing back from two. One an entire year and a half later. Both declined.
So began the college years. I entered my school with the vague notion that I would major in Communications, since that was a degree that could secure me a good job at the end of my studies. As my freshman year progressed, I began to realize that such a major was, (no offense Communications majors) well, drab. Creative writing was what made my blood flow. It shot fire into my thoughts.
I took a leap of faith, walked into the English department, and signed my future away to the Creative Writing major.
Writing in school is falsely and alluringly safe. There are assignments. There are deadlines. There are people who read your stories. There are people who talk about your stories to you.
It's nothing like the real world. Outside of workshop, the only assignments and deadlines are self-imposed. Critique partners can be found on the internet, but they aren't being graded to read your stuff. Writing in the real world takes grit and discipline. It takes a real, true passion.
I realized this my senior year of college. I decided to write novels again, something I'd abandoned after high school due to my demanding academic and social schedule. So, I did what my writing professor Bret Lott told me to do. I woke up every morning and wrote for an hour.
The day before my college graduation, I finished my 400 page urban-fantasy novel Aftersight. Over the summer I cleaned it up and began querying. I queried long, wide and far. But the project just wasn't ready. By the time I realized this, I'd already written a 300 page sequel, unqueryable without the first one's success.
So I decided to start another project. On the cold, early spring mornings in Seoul, South Korea (where I was teaching English), I would wake up, write for an hour and then drag myself off to an eight hour workday. When I got home at night, if I still had the energy, I would write what came to be Godmother. I searched the internet for critique partners and found a few willing participants. With their comments, I embarked on about three months full of edits.
And now I'm querying. As well as working on my next project.

So really, this blog is just leaping in to chronicle the middle of what has already proved to be a long, and at times frustrating journey. Of course, I'm sure I'll go into more of these in detail as I expound upon the disciplines of writing, etc. Please, dear reader, if there's something you would like to see in this blog, comment and let me know. I'll probably try to humor you.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if this is too personal a thing to ask, especially when you're in the process of continually polishing pieces, but snippets from chapters - a few lines here and there- would be neat. :) I'm excited to see where this blog is going to take you.