Part of my reason for writing this blog is to track and chronicle my path to publication, and hopefully beyond. The notion of writing novels is a recent occurrence. Yes, I could tell the cliché story that I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer since I was 3 yrs. old, which is true, however, it was never a goal of mine to write anything beyond a story because I truly didn’t think I could write anything beyond that. As a teen, I was a good ballet dancer. I had dreams of New York and Paris ballet schools, tutus and tights flying around in my head.
I constantly wrote, but mostly journal writing and stories. As a teenager, I was also drawn to theater, and that’s when I began to write scripts. I still don’t quite know what happened with my fabulous dancing career, but I wound up in college. The ‘novel’ started in the MFA Creative writing program at Antioch University. I went into an MFA program to see if I had any skills as a writer, and mostly, to learn about the writing world. There was no intention to complete any project to get published though it seemed as if most around me yearned for publication. I thought I was the only defect in the room who didn’t have that goal, so from day one I felt I was lacking. When I met other writers for the first time, I felt unsophisticated, I lacked the contemporary literary terminology every other writer in the program seemed to speak, and I had barely read any of the “dead white guys” of classic literature, though I did fall in love with Dostoevsky’s work at age 12 (dead white guys was a coined phrase everyone seemed to know but me). Writers spoke the colorful contemporary language of chick lit, stream of consciousness, professional blogger…I was clueless which led to plummeting confidence.
During the first semester, for an assignment, I turned in an old story I had written a couple of years prior because quite frankly it was all I had. My faculty mentor wrote notes in red that my main character had a strong voice and to “keep going”. I thought, going where? I had to turn in a little bit every month, and the thought to crank out more than 50 pages was daunting. The novel started as my attempt to pass off one story for homework that turned into a longer and longer version of it. I wanted to be cool, and accepted, so I decided the longer version of a short unfinished story was my novel. I actually had something to talk about at the cafe, “of course I write novels”.
Despite the self-critical review I had created of myself, I had no choice but to continue, and I think it was the first time I pushed through self-doubt to make it to the other side, into the fictive dream (another sophisticated term I learned). Thankfully, I enjoyed the characters, the muse moved in and before I knew it, I had finished more than 200 pages in 3 weeks, mostly hand written as I hadn’t yet acquired a laptop. It was exhilarating. I didn’t know I had it in me. I finished the first draft by the end of the second semester, and though it was very rough, my mentors felt it was worth a second look, i.e. preparing it for the big P-word.
I finished the program at the beginning of 2009, and it has been only in the past year that I’ve decided to take this seriously, learn from my mistakes, be creative, do my homework, and make the effort to finally put the work out into the world. This is a short version of the journey, and a much lighter version, but I wanted to share an ‘about me’ story, offering a peek into how it all began, as I love to read about my favorite writers beginnings. One day, I’ll write the longer more adventurous version…
p.s. Crime & Punishment is what I read when I was 12…yeah…