Tag Archives: Judas story

Notebooks

So it’s … not August. There goes that particular New Year’s resolution. Most of them took less time for me to break, though, so I still choose to be impressed with myself. (So there.) Also, I was studying for the GRE, so there was that.

(For those of you who may be wondering, yes, I have already gone to grad school, but I never had to take the GRE, so I had to take it to go on back. Which made me feel some kind of way, as I’m sure you can imagine. But the multiple choice part went well, and hopefully the essays did, too!)

Anyway, while I was camped out at my parents’ house studying, my parents were going through old stuff in their basement. Though my apartment is pleasantly airy, I have approximately two centimeters of storage space here, so a lot of my old stuff is still living there. They asked me to go through some of it to see if anything could be donated to the upcoming VNA sale. (Hometown shout out — I remember when people used to cut class to go to opening day of the VNA sale. Honestly, some of the teachers didn’t even mind. Even more of the teachers didn’t mind if students cut class for the soccer team’s empanada sales, as long as they brought some back to share.) Whether or not any VNA customers will want a bunch of DVD box sets for TV shows I don’t care about anymore or the entire CD collection of a teenager circa 2004 is an entirely different question, but they’re there now if anyone does.

What I didn’t get rid of were my boxes of first draft notebooks. Pretty much the entirety of THE CHILDREN WAR’s first draft was written longhand, and that first draft was long. It was also remarkably bad. I’d like to say that’s because I’d never written a novel before, but honestly I’m not sure if my first drafts have actually gotten any better since then. So I have no intention of actually reading these notebooks, but I also don’t want to throw them out. How delightful was it to flip through and spot bygone characters (some of whom I’d completely forgotten existed) and old spellings? How great was it to see my old writing exercises exploring my characters’ pasts? I will never probably never again write anything at such a leisurely pace and with such a tolerance for pure self-indulgence. That’s not to say that I didn’t take it seriously; I definitely did. But I knew that I was traveling without a map, and the best way to do that is to investigate every walkway, no matter how seemingly unimportant.

Much of the first draft of MISBEGOTTEN CREATURES was represented in the notebooks, as well. I didn’t write all of that longhand, mostly because I had actual grad school deadlines to meet with it. But I remember taking a notebook down to the Charles River and glaring at the geese as I tried to figure out how to make that story work. (I didn’t figure that out for a few more years.) The margins are crowded with notes to myself that seemed important at the time but generally weren’t. Some more beloved cut characters live in those pages. Maybe they’ll find new life in a future project, or maybe they only existed to teach me things about the characters who did make the final cut.

To my mom’s delight, I found some ancient Judas story pages (EVENTUALLY, MOM). There was even some old work on middle-grade story; I sometimes forget that this is by no means a new project. In fact, I workshopped my first outing with my main character in undergrad. I spent a semester working with the story in grad school, but then werewolf story came along and took over for the next couple years. I was actually annoyed about it at the time. I wanted to keep working on middle-grade story, but the requirements of the program wouldn’t allow it. Obviously, I’m happy with the way things worked out now. Werewolf story was a book that I needed to write at the time in my life when I wrote it, and I’m very proud of the way it turned out.

I’m glad I saw those old notebooks again, because they reminded me of a few things. First of all, they reminded me to write longhand when I get stuck. Why on earth have I not been doing this with middle-grade story lately?? I focus better writing longhand, partially because I don’t have to use the old distraction box (a.k.a. my laptop) to do it, and possibly also because my thoughts and my writing are more evenly paced than my thoughts and my typing. (That was a humblebrag about how fast I type, or possibly how slow I think? I’m not sure I humblebragged right.) Also, seeing words and worlds spilling across a page in my own handwriting pleases me.

That was another thing that the notebooks reminded me to do: enjoy the ride. Every word of those notebooks was written with love, even when I felt like throwing said notebooks into the river with the geese. Having a physical reminder of the joy of writing was something I needed right now. It’s been a weird … three years … personally and professionally, not to mention politically. Honestly, it’s been getting to me. I’ve spent most of this summer exhausted, castigating myself for self-perceived laziness that I know I don’t actually possess. I’ve had a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. Not always a great combination.

But I’m doing it. Slowly and without a lot of tangible outcomes, but still. I’m constantly engaged in labors of love, just as I have been since the first time I touched pen to paper. I’m not saying those notebooks completely cured me of every envy or frustration or anxious negativity of 2017, but they were a balm to my striving soul. Hey, you make up people and places and turn them into language, they said to me. That’s cool and weird. Keep doing it. Have fun.

So that’s what I’m doing.

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Intro post part 2: my writing

So this really isn’t going to be a writing advice blog, partially because several million of those already exist, and partially because I don’t consider myself particularly good at giving advice, whether about writing or anything else. I mean, I don’t think I’m actively terrible at advice-giving or anything like that. It’s just that my advice usually tends to boil down to I DON’T KNOW, MAN, DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT, which in my defense is usually what any advice-seeker does need to do. I will admit that this is unhelpfully vague, though. The thing is, this vagueness is sort of necessary at least for writing. No two writers do it the same way! Which is not to be all ~creativity cannot be categorized~ or anything like that. It’s just that making up stories is a very long process with a lot of moving parts and no fixed formula. Plus, we’ve probably all read different advice blogs.

I also don’t feel super in the position to give advice because I am in a new stage of my writing life at the moment. Actually, I’m in a new stage of my life in general: Not A Student Anymore. Everything I have written to date has been written while simultaneously being a full-time student. (To be fair, much of it was written in conjunction with being a full time student, considering I was a creative writing major and then got an MFA.) I now have to write while simultaneously being a full time person, and I have a feeling this may be more difficult. (The person-ing will also be difficult. I think I may have a better handle on the writing.) As with anything else, I’ll be figuring it out as I go along.

I figured I’d give an overview of my works in progress, though, as I will probably be referring to them frequently. They are:

1. Story. Otherwise known as The Children’s War. Book 1 of Story is my most complete project to date, and I am currently querying it. (There will eventually be three books, because of course there will.) It’s a YA fantasy that I call high fantasy sometimes, but there’s no actual magic or, indeed, any supernatural/paranormal elements at all. It’s just a pseudo-historical (or rather, pseudo-past-but-not-connected-to-any-actual-historical-period) secondary world. Genre is hard, is what I’m saying. Anyway, Story is kind of the love of my life. There are four protagonists (war historian, soldier, messenger, and deserter from the other side), and they are very different and therefore exciting to write. But as different as they are, what they have in common is that they try really hard. Sometimes it pays off. A lot of times it doesn’t. They keep trying. I don’t think I’d know how to write any other type of protagonist.

2. Werewolf Story. Otherwise known as . . . uh, Werewolf Story. TITLES ARE HARD. It’s a standalone YA fantasy that is also slightly hard to put a more specific subgenre to, but I’m going with alternate universe. As of today, work on the second draft of Werewolf Story has begun! The protagonist is Millie, a rather unsuccessfully genetically engineered werewolf, who winds up falling in love with a girl named Gret, who was born a werewolf. There are various other monster teens, as well, of various sorts. Millie tries really hard, too, often just to figure out what it is that she should try really hard at.

3. Middle-grade Story. Otherwise known as Sky Child. It has been sadly neglected for, uh, two years. Sadface. But maybe now that I’m no longer a student, I can get back to it! I feel like it’s probably going to be my “I’m frustrated with everything else, so let’s tinker with this” story for a while, but that’s okay, it’s good to have one of those. It’s about people with wingggggs!

4. Judas Story. I’LL GET BACK TO THIS EVENTUALLY, MOM, I SWEAR. (My mom really likes this story.) This has been sadly neglected for like one million years. It’s, uh, about Judas. It’s probably going to continue to be neglected for a while. But I haven’t forgotten youuuu, Judas Story.

So that’s where I am in my writing life at the moment. I’m excited about all of it, all the time, and if suddenly the world decided no more new books were going to be published ever again, I’d still keep writing. I figure that’s a good thing.