Monday, October 24, 2011

Audacious Characters and Coups

So, here I am with a blog, and a new writing obsession, but how did I get here? And most importantly, why now? What happened after all those years of saying I would write to make me actually attempt to do it?
Last March as I was going about life, teaching my little second graders, and being wife and mom, a plot, a full cast of characters, and a setting all took up residence in my imagination and wouldn’t leave me alone. To be honest, some of them had been niggling at the recesses of my imagination for years, but they obviously weren’t ready for their coup until March. But in early March they had me by the throat and were not going to let go. One character even had the audacity to let me know that the name I had chosen for her wasn’t actually her name, but more of that story in a later post. It ends up being right out of the Twilight Zone.
I made the decision. I had to let these characters free to roam the pages of a book. But, this book was going to require some research—quite a bit of research, as it is set during the Civil War. During those years that bits and pieces of it had been teasing me, I had first thought it would be a children’s book, then it seemed it needed to be an adult book. But during the intervening years a phenomenon in publishing took off: the young adult novel. Once those characters moved in I quickly realized that the book was a young adult, or YA novel. An historical YA, which isn’t as prevalent as contemporary YA.
So I set off to do my research, and I knew almost immediately that I wasn’t going to be able to wait until I had all my research ducks in a row before started to practice the craft of writing. Research was going to take months. And I wanted to write something NOW. I had never written anything more than a college paper, and I had no idea how to write a full length novel. I had to try my wings. This practice run book needed to be something fun, light, and enjoyable to write. The story had to be very, very different from my Civil War book. It couldn’t require research, obviously. An idea came to me straightaway.
Taking places and topics I enjoy, and mixing them with themes from popular culture I came up with my story. It was only supposed to be a writing exercise, but I ended up having so much fun with it that I became obsessed. Of course I fell in love with my hero, but to be honest, who wouldn’t. He is gorgeous, brilliant, aristocratic, and over two hundred years old. He is a Jane Austen (my favorite author!) professor at an Oxford college, and the fact that he’s a vampire isn’t his only secret, as my heroine soon finds out. So, I spent my summer with Gabriel Augustine, vampire. It was great fun.
Now, I’m writing the Civil War first draft, working on the rewrite of Gabriel, and have just been taken over again by a rogue character who insists on having a book written about her. And she is very, very persistent. So, and I know this is not the way a real writer works, I’m involved with three novels, at varying stages. And each as different from the other as it could possibly be. Each requires a unique voice and style. Is there such a thing as writer ADHD?
While this is an overview of what I’ve been trying to do for the past several months, much has happened along the way. In future posts I’ll write about meeting the fantastic authors who were at Portland’s Wordstock earlier this month. And the writing workshops I attended there. And the writing workshop I attended in September that made me feel like a gigantic imposter, before finally inspiring me to continue. This new writing gig has led me to meet some fascinating people, and to experience things I would never have experienced otherwise.
I don’t see the obsession ending anytime soon.
Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment