Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Making of a Novel


A friend asked me the other day if writing a novel was hard.  Sure, the process was hard, but now that it is over, I look back and think, well, maybe not.  But I keep thinking.  The project started years ago.  For a first book, I believe it took about two years to write.  I had a blast writing it.  In that respect, the writing was easy.  The hard part was all the learning I needed to do to get a decent novel.  Looking back to the past, I realize the story has been with me forever. 

My characters came into being first.  Princess Icylica popped into my head between 1989 and 1993.  My new husband joked about my cold feet.  “Cold feet, cold heart.”  I told him that he had married the Ice Princess.  At some point, I named her.  The real story didn't start until I surrounded myself with a bunch of English friends.  I worked in the college writing lab and when we weren't tutoring, we talked story.  Corrion came into existence.  During this save time in my life, I became a medic for the Montana National Guard.  My dear character Guri is a result of my friend calling my little family the Three Billy Goats Gruff.  When I had my second child in 1995, the three became four.  Of course, this made my friend the troll.  I promised to put her in my first novel, hence, Guri, one of my favorite characters. 

With two little boys to raise, a new teaching career, and the National Guard, I actually found a little free time to write.  Instead of a novel, I started small with a short story.  I sent the story out and promptly received a rejection letter.  I quite writing, thinking I would start when the kids were grown.  I was busy.  Years flew by, but Corrion and party went to sleep with me every night.  I played scenes through my head and a plotline grew.  Typed word counts did not grow. In reality, I had writer’s block for twenty years.  As I approached the big 40, a friend asked about my writing.  I realized I needed to get busy.  When I retired from the military, the word count grew.

Of course, my first 500,000 words sucked.  As I headed through the second half of 1,000,000 they started fitting better.  I read books about writing.  I read fiction books.  I read books about editing.  I attended conferences.  I followed blogs.  I have put up with really arrogant people who think they are the next J.R.R. Tolkien or Earnest Hemmingway.  Talk about egos.  They snub their noses at Stephnie Meyer and JK Rowling.  Now, I don't necessarily like sparkling vampires, but these women wrote stories that grabbed the world.  I wouldn’t mind being either woman!  I continue to learn formatting, inDesign, Smashwords, and CreateSpace.  I need to learn a ton more in all these areas, plus marketing and distribution.  All of this has been hard.  I have to say it also exhilarating when the project comes together. 

The actual writing?  Well, that actually depends on the day.  Yesterday as I attempted my first draft of this blog post, I struggled.  The words felt like drivel.  This morning, I don’t care.  I just want my fingers to feel like they are flying across the keyboard.  Until the coffee kicks in, they aren’t flying but I am okay with that.

The one thing I know about this little writing gig is that I love it.  I am a far cry away from the success of Meyers and Rowlings.  I have a good 5,000,000 more words to reach the writing ability of the classical greats, if even then.  I mean they are great for a reason!  But each morning, I will plug away at learning, typing, formatting, designing, and dreaming.  Plotting, always plotting (maniacal laugh track inserted here).  Oh, and a side note, the research can be fun.  I have been dogsledding.  Not much can beat that!

If anyone has questions, please ask.  I love talking about my characters and writing.

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