Novel Idea

My second novel has been finished for some time. It will be a tough sell in today’s market, which you could say about anything, but if I can’t find a publisher, I’ll be self-publishing it.

When you finish a book, you come down from the elation and think, Oh shit, what am I going to write next? Because, by then, you have to write. I had a vague notion of what my next book would be about, but no vision for how it would come together. So I started dabbling. I was writing daily in notebooks, filling a page with flash fiction, and some days I would write at the top, Novel Idea (I thought that was a clever play on words), and make something up using the characters I thought would end up in this book. A page of that I flat out used, with just a touch of editing. Others ended up buried in my notebooks.

All I knew was two young women were going to college out of state, and rather than the world opening up to them, they were going to seclude themselves in their room and in their friendship. I wanted to show them as two perfectly well adjusted high school seniors, so I opened the book with them celebrating graduation and enjoying their last summer at home. This was some of the worst writing I’ve ever put on a page. So I left that and kept occasionally writing pages in my notebook. Then I opened a “conversations in a coffee shop” document, where I had these two college freshman talking, over coffee, with this absurdly over the top pretentious upper classman. I had several unusable pages of that.

I found out later I was “composting,” which some writing expert says every writer does in some form. Piling ideas and seeing which bear fruit. I generally don’t like writing experts telling people how to write, but the idea is there are as many ways to compost as there are writers. Some do it all in their heads. Some do it by writing first drafts and then locking them away and writing second drafts. This was my way of composting.

Then one Monday, I showed up early for my writing group meeting, where an early draft of Flowers on Concrete was being critiqued, and I felt inspired to write a prologue of these two walking toward the dorm room where they would seclude themselves for, I decided, the first ten thousand words of the novel. (I actually only made it nine.) I also decided No Back Story. I wrote the first draft in nine months. That was a tough time in my life, personally. At one point, I intended to write the most depressing book ever written, and I was well on my way, but that would have been a much shorter work. The story took a hopeful turn, which preceded my personal life taking a hopeful turn. Quite possibly not coincidentally.

And, yes, the prologue is intact.


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