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Monday, August 2, 2010

So This Is Writing a Novel . . .

August Challenge: Writing a Book

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who thrive on long, drawn-out projects, and those who like having something done. I am in the second group. Research papers drove me nuts in college. They were an opportunity for Fangxiety to have a field day with me. But I always finished because, A) I was a good student, and B) I have a pathological compulsion to finish everything I start.

My current magnum opus began as a short story for a creative writing class. I was a biology major, but I had reached a point where I needed to give my brain something else to do. I remember vividly the night I thought of the main character for this short story. Man, was she ever a piece of work. As it turned out, my classmates loved reading about her. I kinda liked the story too. But I had other stuff going on, so I filed it away to languish in hard copy limbo.

Cut to three years later. I'd decided that I didn't want to go to vet school, even though I'd gotten my degree (there's that pathological need to finish again), and was trying to decide what else I could do with my life. Writing floated to the top of the list. I started taking a local workshop class, the very one where I met my fellow Gnome Slayers. One night, I didn't have anything new to take, so I printed the old pages, dusted them off, and threw them to the sharks. Once again, the response skewed towards the positive. And the most common piece of feedback: "You must turn this into a book."

I have now been working on that book forever. Okay, maybe not that long, but longer than I care to admit. Here's what I've learned so far about novel writing: it's waaaay hard. I'm incredibly slow at it. I've wanted to quit before. I have quit for months at a time. But every time I do, the weirdest thing happens. The story won't die; the people inside my head go on living and talking to each other and even to me. So I'm still plugging away. Stay tuned . . .

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