Friday, December 31, 2010


Today I finished the first draft of a novel I've been working on for about six months, tenatively titled Human Blood.  (Macabre, right?  Hehe...)

I love writing first drafts.  Not that it can't be challenging in and of itself, but the first draft is like a roller coaster to me: fun and exciting, and you have no idea what's coming next.  I don't generally know much about my story when I start a first draft.  I'll have a few vague ideas, but no clue how I'm putting them together.  Maybe I'll know the beginning.  Maybe I'll know the ending.  But I never have any idea how I'm getting there. 

When I started Human Blood, I had only one scene and one character.  There was blood and death, but I had no idea how it happened or what it had to do with my narrator.  Originally, I had envisioned it as a short-short, a teasing little piece of flash fiction.  Six months and 94,000 words later, I clearly can't call it that anymore!

That all changed when I took the piece to a writer's group that I participate in.  After I read it, I was peppered with questions about who my narrator was, why she acted the way she did, whether she was crazy or not, whether she was possessed, etc.  (I wasn't offended by these questions.  My narrator's behavior was, shall I say, a little outside the mainstream.)  At the time, I didn't have any answers to these questions.  But my mind--being the weird and strange place that it is--started to chew them over.  And I started to write.

So when I say that I had absolutely no idea where the story was going when I started, I'm not kidding.  Writing the first draft has been a big, exciting adventure for me.  You open up that MS Word file for the first time, and the possibilities are limitless.  All avenues are open to you.  The sky's the limit!

But if first drafting is a big, exciting adventure, revising is like solving a Rubix cube or a Soduku puzzle--neither of which I'm any good at!  Six months ago I had no idea where the story was going.  Now, I know exactly who these characters are and why they've acted the way they did.  But I know the story has rough spots; I already have a sense of what some of them are, and I'm going to work on them.  Others, I won't  figure out until someone actually reads the story.  But the possibilities are no longer endless.  To make this story stronger, I have to work within the framework of what I've already created.

So maybe the Rubix cube and Soduku puzzle weren't the best metaphors.  It's more like Jenga--that game where you attempt to remove individual blocks from a tower without knocking over the rest.  It's one thing to copy edit and wordsmith.  It's another to change entire scenes.  If I change a scene on page 50, how is that going to affect how things play out on page 200?  How can I do this without messing up the rest of the story?  Jenga.  Also, there's no one right way to do it.  What doesn't work for one reader might be the best part of the story for another.  Who's right?  Who's wrong?  What do I do to keep from strangling people?  Revision, for me, is scary and frustrating and makes me want to pull my hair out.

But I know this is a necessary part of the process, and I know if I want to make that transition from "hobbyist" to "professional," it's something I must do.  So I'll suck it up, and I'll do the best I can.  And meanwhile, I may work on another first draft just to break some of the tension inherent to my revision process.  I have another idea bouncing around in my head, and it's a little lighter and funnier than the one I've been working on.

Something tells me "light" and "funny" are exactly what I'm going to need while I'm revising.

The Inagural Post: Why I Write and Why I Read

So I've decided to start a blog.

I have no idea why I'm doing it.  I have no idea whether anyone will read it.  Not for awhile, I suspect.  Which is fine.  Gives me a chance to get the lay of the land, so to speak.

There are two things I do pretty frequently, more often than anything else: writing and reading.  I don't really have any other hobbies, so to speak.  I like cooking, but I live alone and I'm a picky eater.  I like dancing, but I hate crowds and I don't have a boyfriend.  I used to like television and movies, but now I can't remember the last time I went to the theater and I can't even find my remote control half the time.

So that's what I do.  I write.  And I read.  And that's that.

And this is fine with me.  I have great friends, a good job, a nice (albeit quite messy, most of the time) apartment, and I love my life.  Being a book girl is awesome.

My love of reading started very early.  As a kid, I had a difficult time socially--that's just another way of saying I was a pariah--so books became my escape, and the characters became my friends.  Anne Shirley.  Meg Murray.  These were the girls I related to growing up.  As I got older, I moved on to Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.  (Ah, yes, despite my cynical facade, I am a sap.  I am a sucker for the romances.)  More recently, I've been reading a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal romances.  I love supernatural stuff.  I've always been a big believer in a world full of possibilities.

As for writing...well, that one is simpler: I am a megalomaniac.  The books you read don't always end the way you want them to.  The books you write do.  I get to create a world and its inhabitants.  Then I get to control it.  I am a god.  HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Seriously, though, I live half my life in my head making stuff up, anyway.  I'm a regular Walter Mitty.  I might as well use writing as an outlet for it.

At any rate, since I need a place to keep track of them anyway, here are my reading and writing-related resolutions for 2011:

Reading Resolutions

1. Keep track of the books I read.  I read a lot of books in 2010.  Too bad I have absolutely no idea which books, or how many

2.  Be more open to new genres and authors.

3.  Along the same line, take more reading suggestions.  As the Book Editor over at, I really should try to be more open and diverse in my reading.  (Of course, the advantage of having my own personal blog is that, on it, I can be as self-indulgent in my reading as I want!)

Writing Resolutions

1.  Revise that manuscript of the first draft I just finished.

2.  Join some critique groups.

3.  Learn to take criticism better.  (I've got a long way to go on this one.)

4.  Start submitting to agents/publishers before the end of 2011.

5.  Work on something else as I'm revising, so I don't want to tear my hair out.

Oh, boy.  Something tells me it could be a long year...