...but I did it anyway.
Yes, friends, the Secret (not a secret at all if you follow me on Twitter!) is out. Yesterday I wrote "THE END" on what may one day become the last page of my very first full-length novel.
It's not finished, of course. After letting it rest for a month to clear out my brain buffers, it will need considerable revision over the summer, and then it'll go to some beta readers who, I hope, will criticize it mercilessly and prompt another round of revisions. I'm looking at a time frame of late 2010 to send query letters to a handful of carefully chosen agents, in whose inboxes they will sit until said agents get round to reading them, which due to the huge number of submissions agents seem to receive will take several weeks. So I'm expecting to receive my first rejection letters in early 2011, setting off a new round of revisions and queries, and so on until I either get lucky or give up. And that's just to get an agent! Getting published is a long, hard road.
I've always dreamed of writing fiction, but as the title of this post suggests, I had a lot of mental blocks:
Lazy: OK, I'm not technically a lazy person. A friend once told me I had more energy than God, which was such a wonderful exaggeration that I've never forgotten it! But the sheer discipline of writing something that may never see the light of day just because... I had no idea if I could do it.
Scared: believe it or not, I'm a shy little thing at heart. As a young woman I had several experiences where people laughed at me/my writing/my pretensions to be a writer, and those were enough to drive my writing back into my head for years. It's only in the last ten years that I've grown a hard enough shell to put my writing out there professionally and as a student (the M/LS program at Lake Forest College was a HUGE help) and, of course, the more your pieces get picked over the more you begin to appreciate how lovely and helpful criticism really is. And that it really doesn't matter, because you can always rearrange the words to suit the occasion.
Untalented: who doesn't have the Yousuck Monster on their back most of the time? 'Nuff said.
[At this point in the original post I started droning on about how I got started, how I continued, and how I finished. I then realized that the post itself would almost be novel-length, so I threw those words onto my desktop and saved them for later. Because I want this post to go in this direction:]
Dot dot dot, blah blah blah, OK here I am and I've finished the first draft. Time to announce it to the family. Ah, yes, the Secret. I had a little bet with myself that I could write an entire novel without my family noticing. And I won, pretty much. Felsted, on being given the news, remarked that he'd noticed my tendency to close my laptop whenever someone walked into my office, and that he had WONDERED. Ya know, questions like "why do you always close your laptop when I walk in?" would only elicit an unpleasant response about three days out of the month, so I really do feel he should have tried the experiment. Still, like most men he never seems to be able to figure out when those three days are (why are women born with radar and men not?) and this karate mama's temper can be a bit hair trigger at times, so I guess he just chose the easier option.
As for Orangina and Wasabi, well I'm Mom, right? So I never do anything interesting. Having received the news, their reactions were typical. Orangina's head currently looks something like this: Prom Prom Prom prom dress hair for Prom boyfriend Prom Prom Prom hair Prom Prom ooo! cookies! Prom Prom Prom, so the novel kind of bounced off her and ran away to wherever completely lost thoughts go. Wasabi, on the other hand, asked several intelligent questions and wants to be a beta reader. I had already thought of asking her as she reads slowly and meticulously, takes careful note of plot and character, and will give me her honest opinion IN SPADES. And will probably laugh at me a few times. Come to think of it, parenting teenagers has also contributed to toughening my skin to its current rhino-hide consistency.
Oh yeah, what's the novel called and what's it about? For many reasons, I have to decline to discuss those points until a much later date. I did run through the plot for Felsted last night, and his eyes kind of glazed over, and then crossed slightly while his backgammon-game-playing fingers twitched repeatedly towards his computer keyboard. It is NOT the kind of novel I'd expect him to read, so I wasn't hurt. I can tell you the genre, only I'm a little confused about it myself and need to do some research. It's sort of literary; or upmarket women's fiction; the pinnacle of my aspirations is that book clubs might like it. There are NO vampires, NO witches or wizards, NO Greek gods, NO castles except a very small pseudo-one and NO sexy bits. It is definitely not YA or fantasy or anything trendy like that.
What's next? Well, write another book, of course. I'm going to get down straight away to outlining my first NaNoWriMo project, and fortunately I have a pretty solid idea...
TO BE CONTINUED but not without a big shoutout to all the wonderful fellow-writers (some published, some beginners like me) I've met on Twitter over the last three months. They are an unbelievably generous, helpful, upbeat bunch of people and I intend to keep following their adventures assiduously!