Friday, July 17, 2009

Nine Years

Crazy day today. I actually took my lunch, so I had no time to do more than a few sentences in my novel. So, since I have no real progress to show anyway, I thought I'd take a break from writing about writing and actually write something today. In memoriam of my father:

It's been nine years tonight. Nine years since I held your hand and begged whatever higher power I could think of to stop the ebb of life out of your body. Nine years since I lost my best friend, constant companion, and father.

Nine years have passed, and I can tick them off on my fingers like any other number. Like how many apples I have in the fridge, or how many hours I spend at work each day. But the pain doesn't pierce me so sharply when I think about apples, or hours, like it did when I thought of you. Nine used to be the number of times I would cry in an hour in your memory. Now its another number, another place I find myself in my life after you. Another year since that awful, awful day.

My life has been separated by the divide of your passing. I define myself as the me before, and the me after. The me before had so little to worry about. She had an ideal of what her life would be, and you were always in it. The me after has come to realize that life isn't guaranteed, and that every time she says goodbye to someone, it could be the last.

I often wonder how different my life would be if you were still here. I've learned to bridge the canyon you left behind, but I wonder if I still would have needed it. If some other force would have given me a yawning maw to traverse anyway. I like to think it would have been easier with you there, beside me.

I still cry sometimes, Daddy. I still miss you when I think how you will never walk me down the aisle. You never saw me even graduate high school. You'll never get to be a grandfather to my children, or finish being a father to me. But I cherish the time we had, and I honor you every year on the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

I think you would be proud of me. I know you would love me. I hope you are finding peace from the pain you carried where you are now.

It's been nine years, and I still feel like a little girl when I think of you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome :)

All right.

Welcome to my blog.

I feel almost presumptuous starting one. But I have been a life-long lover of books; I began reading adult-level books when I was six (no joke! My mom used to have to share her library with me). I started trying to write my own when I was eight. That story, involving copious aliens and their abductions on Earth, got to about three pages and then went nowhere.

Seven years ago, the summer after my senior year of high school, I had nothing better to do with my time than sit around, and think, and read. It was in doing so that I came across an old children's folk tale from a childhood book of my mother's. This story sparked an idea in me; an idea to write about a character that fascinated me: the North Wind.

I wrote furiously that summer, getting all the way up to fifty (!) pages of text, before. . . I let it go. It was always in the back of my mind, but I had written myself into a corner and didn't know how to get out of it. Finally, in January of this year, I had my wonderful boyfriend (who, after I had told him about this story I had fallen in love with but couldn't get to on my antiquated computer anymore, volunteered to retrieve it for me) follow through with his promise and hand me my old files on a flash drive.

I opened the document for this story, and read it again for the first time in seven years. This time, I didn't hate it. It needed work -- a lot of it-- and the story was still unsolvable in its current state, but I still loved the idea. It was time to ask for help.

I enrolled in my college's novel writer's critique group and that, to date, is one of the smartest things I've ever done. *preens* I submitted my first chapter for class-wide critique within the first two weeks, confident, like so many other new writers, that the rest of my class would fall over themselves to bow at my feet, offering me sacrifices if only I would bless them with more of my story.

Well, after witnessing the first class-wide critiques of other author's works, I was horrified. Everything everyone else was saying was wrong with their manuscripts. . . was wrong with mine! I hurriedly pulled my first MS--though it was technically too late, everyone already had a copy of it--and re-wrote my first chapter in time for my critique. And. . . they didn't hate it! There was a lot of, er, constructive criticism, but among that was "I'd read this" and "I'm fascinated by your story".

Since then, it's been a long ride. I've been motivated to work on this story like never before. After several late-night thinking-out-loud plot sessions with my boyfriend, I finally got my plot nailed down, and finished my first draft at 64,000 words last weekend. I'm now in Round 2 revision and expansion, and I thought I'd start this blog to chronicle my steps through the process-- editing, revision, querying, and hopefully: agenting, selling, and publishing. Not only do I hope it will help me actually work on my MS and hold myself accountable for it, a part of me hopes it can help someone else out there too. I'm sure there are hundreds of author-chronicles out there, but this one is mine, and if you're reading this, I hope that you will find it useful, witty, entertaining, informative, and updated.

Oh-- it's also my goal to have a short story on occasional Sundays posted here. I think this will be a good exercise for me; not only to keep me writing during the querying process, but also to just keep me writing, and honing my art.

Right now, as I said, I'm just starting Round 2 revision and editing, trying to get my word count up (not that 64,000 is bad, but I'm shooting for Adult Fantasy here and it's a little shorter than I'd like, even as a first-time author), and expand on some parts where I could show or explain more than I do. I'm trying to find that perfect balance between showing too much of my world and too little. I'm trying to figure out how not to use pronouns so often. I'm battling with adverbs, and awkward phrasing. I'm wrestling with punctuation marks (semi-colons and dashes are really feisty, let me tell you!) I'm fighting really really hard to keep two of my characters distinct and separated, even though I really should combine them. And I'm trying very hard to find all the last remnants of my old plot and either twist or change them to match the new one.

I've started working on my query letter, and am sending it round to friends and family, asking one question: would this make you want to read my book?

So far, most of them don't know I've been writing one, so I've mostly been getting a lot of question marks and funny looks in response. Ah, well. No one ever said this was going to be easy.

Here's to publishing, good books and good stories. Cheers!

Comments will always be enabled, I'm open to suggestions and discussions.