That's it, I've made a decision - I'm going to write a novel. I've talked about it off and on since I was a senior in college (holy crap that's a long time ago now...), so anyone who knows me probably will shrug and say, "And?"
So it's probably not a huge surprise I would make this statement, I get that. However, everyone is supposed to have goals, right? If you don't explicitly define your goals, the theories go, you will never reach them. My own corollary to the theories is that if you don't write it on the internet it can't possibly mean anything. Perhaps then that's my whole point in writing this post, so I can be held accountable.
If you read the blog, then you perhaps read the two old pieces of short fiction I wrote here and here. They are okay, but they were also written in college and looking at them now I can see a ton of ways I would have done them differently (and made them better). I've learned, over the years, from good writing and my own practice, here on this blog and in my other daily endeavour.
Why do I think I can succeed? People seem to enjoy my voice (of course, maybe they are lying to me, never know) and I do have extensive writing experience, though much of it is a little more newsy and analytical. Still, I'd like to think I brought a little bit of personality - flavor, if you will - to all of my previous writings that made them more entertaining.
Plus, I'm me - I'm different, unique. My voice is different, my point of view is different. We are all a product of our experiences and relationships. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person in the world with a University of Oregon degree in Japanese who studied in Italy and has spent time in a NBA locker room (hey, I could be wrong), so my experiences and interpretations of events are going to be slanted differently than anyone else's because of unique life experiences.
They also say goals should have parameters. Maybe if I say by the time I hit 35? That's an explicit parameter, but still gives me time.
See, now I have this goal, but how the hell do I go about accomplishing it? The smart ass among you will probably be thinking "Well, how about start writing?" Easy enough. Of course, with 60 hours a week of work and home life, there isn't a lot left to go around. (I could say that's the reason it's not done yet, but that's not necessarily true.)
After making this decision, I realized I don't exactly know what to do next. I have some ideas I think will be good novels. How do I pick which one to start with? Is it whichever one is foremost in my mind on the day I open a new Word document? How do I choose? If there is one I like a little more than the others, do I choose that one, or do I save it for after I inevitably become a famous author? (Yes, that was tongue in cheek.)
Perhaps I shouldn't be scared of this, but I am: What if I take my best idea, write it, and no one wants to publish it? How do I move on from that? Does it become a one shot deal? Do I spiral into depression? It's funny, just the other day on this blog I follow by Tawna Fenske she talked about the average number of manuscripts an author has to write before they get published. The average, she said, was seven, though it is of course different for everyone.
Seven? SEVEN?! I am having a hard time getting my mind around writing one novel, and if I'm average I will have to write six no one will ever see unless I email it to them?! Damn, want to talk about depressing. Out of this is where my question about saving an idea comes in. The flip side of the conversation is why save the best idea? Why not just write it, and if it's so damn good maybe I won't have to have six hidden manuscripts.
Of course, if my writing this blog had taught me anything, it's that if I continually write about Misaki I will have plenty of readers. Maybe I should just do that instead?
Thinking about average won't get me anywhere though. Besides, if I didn't think I could buck the trend would I be much of a writer? I mean, no one who tries to get into this whole writing thing thinks it will take them six books to hit the jackpot.
The upshot of all of this is it's time to get started. Another upshot is I have what I feel is a very good concept for an entertaining piece of fiction. Now, if only that were enough to send me on my way...
I have questions, so hopefully I'll be able to get this in front of an author or two and perhaps they can give an answer or two in the comments.
In no particular order - and I realize all of these are subjective and the real answer is I need to figure what works for me - these are the things I'm wondering:
1 - How does one work writing a novel around having a full-time job? Any tips you might have?
2 - Have you ever saved a novel idea? (Probably a better question for unpublished authors, or published authors looking back at a time before they were published.)
3 - If you have two or more good ideas, how do you choose one? Or do you feel multiple paths out?
4 - The use of outlining, timelines, character maps, and the like is going to be different for everyone - what do you do?
5 - How important are personal experiences to writing a novel? For example, if my character is going to be shooting a handgun, do I make it a point to go to a shooting range and feel the heft and kick of the weapon in my own hands? And more importantly, are these experiences tax deductible? (Honestly, I would think the answer is yes, but it may not be.)
6 - Do you ever worry about a character in your novel too closely resembling someone in your own life? Have you had to re-write because of that?
I've got more questions, but I think they will present themselves as this project goes along in more clarity. It's going to be a process, that's for sure. If you feel you have an answer or a suggestion to one or more of these questions, I'd love to see it in the comments!