In the beginning…
I was browsing through my network directory folder at school today and came across some great pieces of nostalgia from my first year at EMU. I found early drafts of stories I started writing here, and my grad school statement and some other interesting things. One of the best things I found, though, was the journal I kept during the four year rewrite process of my first novel, then called WANNABE. I thought this journal was lost in a botched system restore, so I was very happy to have these early thoughts through my first completed novel. To show you the mindset I was in as I started this, I’ve decided to post some execerpts from that journal here. I started this when I was living in New York City and working in the editorial department for Bantam Dell.
So I’m following the example of Sue Grafton who uses a journal as she writes each of her books an dshe uses the journals to duke it out between her right brain and her left brain. I think using these journals will help me because for one it will get me writing everyday because I’m sure that writing in here will spurr me on to write in the actual draft of the manuscript. I have decided to just refer to this officially for now as Novel 1. I have always tried to label the disk and the file with whatever witty name I have for the story at the moment and I end up changing the title of the dumb thing four or five times at least, most of the time more. It should also be noted that I am aiming, for the moment at least, to complete a draft of the novel to enter in the 2001 St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America contest which has a deadline of August 1, 2001. After reading so many of the bad manuscripts here at Bantam, I am confident that whatever I generate as a first (revised somewhat) draft will be superior to most of the other entries. I stand a very good chance of winning this contest. And as I just read in an interview with Julie Smith: There are two types of people in this world, those who have written books and those who haven’t. I am still young, I have to get the bad books out of me while I have the time, but I am also convinced that whatever I generate as my “bad books” will be good, maybe not publishable right off the bat, but I have matured as a writer and this is the time to strike. I have the connections I need, I have the opportunities I need, I have the story I need I just need the manuscript.
For the time being there are two problems that I see for me writing this. The first is obviously just getting the dumb thing done. As a show of good faith I have decided not to delete the first five pages I have written. I will just keep adding whatever I come up with to the total that is already there. If I come up with a scene I think would make a great opening, I will just write the scene and add it to the narration that is already in progress. I can always cut and rewrite, but I am sure that adding these scenes to the current narration will also show me plot bits and twists and ideas that maybe I wouldn’t have come up with. The second problem I see is with research. Because most of the story will be autobiographical and straight from my imagination I don’t see running into too many problems because I do have a sufficient general knowledge of enough to get by. I can always do more research later and then I’ll actually have a manuscript to front myself as a writer.
And here’s an entry from a few days later.
July 1, 2001
So here I am and I still haven’t written anything and the deadline, including today, is only thirty days away. I know I can do this if I just get my lazy butt in gear and this will make great stories for book signings and Today show appearances. Not only have I not written anything I have actually deleted pages. I decided the beginning was too long and drawn out so I cut it and I will start again, but this with him being kicked out of school. I want him into the detective agency as soon as possible.
I think I should also note that I have been particularly inspired by reading G is for Grafton and in various magazines I have bee bombarded by tons of “just write the damn thing” type of advice. I agree. I have come into contact with so many wanna-be writers in this city that the only way to set myself apart from the pack is to actually finish a novel and have it published.
It’s nice to look back on this all and know that I did finish it on October 21, 2001. Now if I can just finish the latest book before October 21, 2006…