Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Writing My First Book

Not a lot of people know this about me, but when I was 14, all the way back in 2003, (man, how time flies!) I wrote (and completed) my first ever book. It was a magical experience. I had come up with the idea the year before while chatting with my good friend and massage therapist, Allison. I was bouncing ideas off her for a possible story that I could write, and by the time my massage was over, I was bursting with great ideas that involved, a single, 20-something girl, a stalker, a policemen, romance...and some deadly high heels. :)

I fell in love with the story, it's all I thought about and all I wanted to work on, it was the most exciting and freeing time in my life, because I wasn't writing for publication (but it was always in the back of my mind) I was writing for me, I was writing because I knew I needed to tell this story, I wanted to tell it, and then, one night, a year later, just like that, I was finished. Once I typed "The End", all I could do was sit there in front of my computer in stunned silence, marveling at what I had just done. i had finished a book! I had done it! All my hard work over the past year had paid off, and I now had a 100 page book to show for it. I was over the moon!

But, that's when the real trouble began....

I was so excited about finished my first ever novel, that I didn't stop to think about backing it up, or printing it out, and so, when my Dad had to use my laptop that the novel was written on for work, I let him barrow it without thinking about my precious book inside...

And so, as punishment for my lack of planning, by the time he was done using my laptop and brought it back home, I couldn't open up the word document that my book was typed on. We tried everything, but nothing worked, and in the end, the book that I had loved and adored for a year of my life was trapped, lost forever on my laptop.

Well, you can bet after that that I was crushed. My book, my baby, was gone. It wasn't until a few years later that I was hit with a new idea that I had loved almost as much as that idea for my long lost novel, that I tried my hand at writing a new book. During the writing of that new book, I was consumed, I loved it, but then, when I had hit page 80, something happened and I was stuck. That one case of writers block stopped me from finishing what could have been my second completed novel, and ever since then, I've been trapped in a vicious cycle of half-finished WIPs floating around on different computers and notebooks.

And now, here I sit, seven years later, with only 6 days remaining until WriteOnCon with barely any words written, and certainly not a novel. I don't know why this is. A lot of it has to do with fear, the fear that I'll never have another experience like I did in 2003, that I'll never feel that happy again about a project, that I'll never finish anything, that I'll never be published.

Have any of you ever felt this way? That any story you write from here on out will never compare to that one story you wrote and loved so long ago? How do you get past this and other fears in order to find the courage to write and finish something new?

Muse, if your listening, I'm ready to feel that magic again, whenever your ready. I'm here, sitting patiently, waiting. (No, seriously, hurry up, I'm going crazy over here! *pulls out hair*)



Anonymous said...

Firstly, I sympathize with losing something you have written and poured so much time and passion into. This has happened to me a bunch of times so much so that now I back up all my written work on a USB just in case.

There are always doubts when starting a new project. I have feared when writing something new that it won't flow as easily as past writing projects and that I won't be as passionate about it as past stories I've written and so on much like yourself. Unfortunately, I really don't think there is a cure for these feelings.(But if there is I too would love to know haha)With me, what works best is just shelving the insecurities and the doubt and writing. (Waaaayyyy easier said than done, I know.)

I've learned that with each thing I write, the struggle and experience is different but I don't think that necessarily has to be a bad thing. I would just say to not let the writer's doubt get you down. There will be future projects that you will love just as must as that past novel you wrote if not more so. Just keep at it and never allow yourself to believe that you can't because you can-and you will. :)

Whew...I talk a lot. ;)

Matt Linenbroker said...

I had a similar experience. A few years ago I lost a ton of my music (nothing compared to loosing a novel), ever since then I've backed things up obsessively.

I doubt myself all the time. Fearing my skills have diminished, I cringe with irrational thoughts of failure. I wish I could say there was a magical feeling you get when you know you're doing things right. I wish I could say there was a cure for doubt and fear. And oh God, I wish I could say there was a way you could instantly get inspired. I guess we just have to work through it all. We try new things. We change up our writing styles, the way we write our characters, even when we write. We just keep going, hoping we're doing something right.