Today marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I had a blog or two before this one, but I wasn’t really committed to them. But a year ago, I started writing and I decided to make a commitment to writing regularly. It was a daily practice to keep the writing juices flowing and to help me develop my voice. It was to help me develop who I am, both as a writer and as a person.
I started it last year because, a year ago, I wrote my very first novel. It took me from November to April to write 400 pages, or 100,000 words. I wrote obsessively and, minus a mini novel identity crisis at the midpoint, nonstop in every spare moment I could find. The first draft was…well, how I imagine most first drafts are: clunky, full of cliches, underwhelming, but from the heart.
Then I sat on it. For several months, I didn’t really touch it. I just thought about it incessantly and wrote emails and notes to myself on little scraps of paper. I also read. Voraciously. But I didn’t read to be entertained, I read to learn. All the problems I could spot with my first draft, I tried to fix by learning from techniques others used well. I thought more deeply about what I really wanted to convey with my novel and how I could illustrate it better, and I got rid of everything unnecessary. I cut out an entire chapter. And most of many of the beginning chapters. I switched from third person to first person point of view. MAJOR overhaul.
Then, when I had gotten all the notes and thoughts together I could, I started again. The first third of my book takes the most effort to fix because I really didn’t know how to write a novel when I started, but by the second third of it, I began to find my groove and my voice. I’ve gone through revisions of the first third and finally (FINALLY!) have it to a point where I’m happy with it. My goal is to finish revising the last two thirds by September. There is a writers’ conference in September where I hope to meet other writers and – fingers crossed – agents.
But I did all this in my spare time. I did it at 2 a.m. when I should have been asleep, but couldn’t sleep because of all the words clamoring to pour from my fingertips. I did it when I wasn’t working on my dissertation, with the promise to myself I could as long as I stayed on track with completing my degree. I did it even though it seemed like a pipe dream to hope that anyone other than family or friends would ever see it.
But last week something amazing happened. Through a happy twist of fate, I had my first meeting with a writer/editor – someone who has been in the business for at least 25 years and really knows his stuff. We talked, I told him about my book, my ideas, my approach, everything. And I got REALLY positive feedback from him in return. I was beyond thrilled. I gave him a copy of my synopsis and first couple of chapters to read and all in all, it was really a pleasant meeting. Even more than that, it was really a pleasure to get to know him a bit too. Anyway, I’m not counting any chickens before the eggs are hatched, but I will say that this is the beginning of hope. Whatever comes of it, it will be so amazing just to have feedback from someone in the business. It would probably have been more prudent to wait until something happened for sure before telling you all this, but I’m too excited to be prudent. Besides, this process is a journey, and I’d love to have you all for the ride, not just the destination.
So here we are. At the beginning.
The working title of my book: The Heart of the Lotus
On the eve of a trial that would sentence her to death, Fatima takes her only son into her arms and tell him her story, so that beyond all the lies and suspicion sown by her enemies, her son might know who his mother was. Set in ancient Corinth, Fatima tells her son how she traveled from ancient Persia with her father. Upon their arrival in Corinth, her father was murdered by thieves and Fatima was taken in as a slave girl, lost and alone in a foreign land and culture. Forced to choose between honoring her ancestral past and learning to adapt, Fatima finds herself pitted in a power struggle against those who are suspicious of her foreign nature and who seek to keep her in her rightful place. To find true freedom, Fatima must have the courage to develop her own identity and the honor to stand up for herself, even in the face of the ultimate sacrifice.