There was a period in my life where I’m not sure I thought this day was ever going to come. Granted, the day I’m referring to isn’t until tomorrow, but still. I’ve been a writer in one form or another since I was in…what, first or second grade? I got “serious” about it when I was about 11, writing fanfiction with my cousin for Pokémon. In the next few years after that, I found various message-board roleplaying games, usually connected to anime I was watching. I found friends there who pushed me to write more, better, faster. I wrote piecemeal with friends once I got into middle school and high school. Some of my friends from back then have given me whole inspirations for books, and even though we don’t talk anymore, I can never repay them for that.
In college I met another close friend who pushed me further, into new territories, helped me be comfortable with myself as well as my writing. I found NaNoWriMo, and the community therein. I changed my major. I went to graduate school. I became a Municipal Liaison for NaNo.
And tomorrow, my 2009 NaNoWriMo book will become reality–published for the world to see.
The dream has always been to be a published writer. (Well, it’s also been to be a teacher, to be a truck driver, to be an actor…but you get the meaning.) And I love writing, and telling stories, and being able to share those stories with other. I’ve been writing fanfiction for so long, and there’s still nothing quite like a rave review on a story. I’ve found a whole group of people recently, who both inspire me, and are (apparently) inspired by me. It’s a wonderful feeling.
I’ve been re-immersing myself in fanfiction lately, probably just to de-stress from all the SOTR work), helping myself find passion in writing again. It’s less that I lost it and more than it got buried under eight years (yeahhhhh) of revision, and then a good two weeks or so of hardcore polishing and editing (and re-editing, and re-re-editing…) before I could finally put it up and be ready for the world. (And then I found three mistakes and had to go back and re-upload…and then found two more…and then…)
I’ve had so many people say that they have faith in me and in my book, and that they’re excited to read it. I’ve already had one person read the final draft (from my proof copy) and they said they really liked it. I know friends of mine have already pre-ordered copies, or are waiting until they can get paperback copies. I live in one of the most writer-friendly places I’ve ever known, and in a few moments, I’m going to go out and see if I can drop off some promotional material various places. As far as anyone is concerned…this should be a piece of cake.
But it’s not. It’s terrifying.
These characters have been part of my life since November of 2009. My senior year of college, I sat down with the NaNo group I was leading there and came up with a rough approximation of who Alistair would become. At that point, he wasn’t a vampire. Later he’d become one, and still later he’d shift into kind-of-one. (I promise it makes more sense than it sounds.) Names of characters have changed, a few settings have changed, whole concepts have been twisted around and repurposed. I’m proud of my book. I got myself teary-eyed writing a character’s death. (No spoilers on who! Though if you’ve been around long enough, you probably already know…) It’s everything I hoped it could become. …And yet.
I’ve had long conversations with one of my mentors, usually while we were working together, though not always, about what he thought Revolution needed to be. What you need to know about Carlo Gébler is that his primary method of teaching is to make a decision about your book/manuscript, and then push it at you until you either give in, or push back. I’m not sure if Carlo actually believes you should make the choices he presents, and I’d believe it either way. My first year working with him, he told me that I needed to change the ending of the book because “no dystopian book ever has a happy ending” and that there wasn’t enough sex. Also my main character was clearly gay and I never expanded on the sexual tension between him and his roommate.
…The truth is that the ending isn’t happy so much as neutral, my main character spends quite literally the entire book actively avoiding getting emotionally or physically involved with anyone, and while he and his roommate often joke about how close they are, neither of them are sexually interested in the other.
Carlo didn’t care. Everyone needed to have sex and die.
I pushed back.
The next year, in a chance meeting in the courtyard, he told me that the book was too long and I needed to cut it in half, or at least chop a third out.
I pushed back.
And for most of my life, I probably wouldn’t have, if he hadn’t taught me how. It’s too easy to say “well, you’re the professional and not me. I’ll trust your judgment.” No. This is MY book, and the only one who knows it best is ME. Take what your teachers give you, use the useful parts, throw away the rest. (That being said, if five people all tell you that you have the same problem, maybe you need to look at it again…) But I didn’t chop anything out, and my final semester mentor described the book as “fast-paced, smart, cinematic and original”. I made the calls I needed to.
Mike, Brandon, James, Kaden, Jaxi, Britt, Lexi, JessAnn, Michelle, Janice, Carlo, Jane, Sean…
This one’s for you.
Pre-order is still up for the rest of the day! Find pre-order or purchase links here!