Hello! Before I begin blogging about my most recent novel project I’d like to go over some of my writing past, and my initial experiences with the writing process:
So where should we start? New Jersey. 4th grade? How about 2nd? If I remember correctly, that year I wrote a 3 page story about a boy who cried wolf, that, or it was about an umbrella, it’s hard to say. But, 3 pages was considered long back then and I remember thinking that it felt good to tell a story (This was after my kindergarten meltdown when I convinced myself that I was never going to learn how to read properly. It was way too complicated).
Flash forward to 4th grade, Mr. Cook’s class. He had us make “Writing Workshop folders” and for a small piece of each day we were supposed to work on short stories. My story idea came to me while searching through my old white desk. I found a picture of my brother and I, and it had a date printed on the bottom corner. Based on that I thought, “I’ve got it!” –A murder mystery that relies on a dated photo to piece together all the facts! And so, during writing time I started what became the first chapter of my first book. I didn’t intend to write a book, but for the first time, my then-tomboy-self had found something that felt easy to do. Thankfully, my teacher let me continue the same story all year and I still have the first 66 manilla pages written in pencil that made up the first 1/3 of my first book. To this day, I enjoy writing stories that have a thriller component.
I hand-wrote the first draft of that book and then I typed it up and re-edited it and re-edited it and re-edited it. It was challenging to be constantly growing and learning and to go back and edit what I had written the year prior. I finished the book in 7th grade I think, and then I started researching how to publish a book. I learned about agents and traditional publishing versus independent publishing. At my young age I decided that I would be lucky enough to hold my story in my hands in book form, but securing an agent and then a publisher seemed too daunting at the time. I ended up finding a couple publishing houses that didn’t require agents, and I found one print-on-demand house that accepted my manuscript with an ending word count of about 50,000.
My freshman year of high school I traveled around neighboring cities in my area and gave talks to kids about writing and publishing and fostering creative goals. So, my book didn’t become the next Rumble Fish or Eragon, but my book was/is available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Plus, I was able to have a couple local book signings as well. That experience paved the way for my second book, which I wrote during high school. This time I wanted to use my imagination to its fullest extent, so-to-speak, and I wrote a fantasy story with a new world, new rules, new everything. This book ended up with a 65,000 word count and perhaps a slightly over zealous writing style, but still, it’s a book I’ll always be proud of. I published this book the same way I had the first, and I followed up with the same types of events.
Then college. I was a film, and writing, literature and publishing major in the honors program at Emerson College in Boston. During my time at Emerson I had to let go of novel-writing, for the moment, and focus on shorter classroom assignments. I had to see around my blind love for writing and learn more about the craft of it all. This hindered me a little, at first, as I became self conscious of my writing to a degree that hampered my creativity, but after four years, I came out the other side a magna cum laude graduate and a better writer (I hope), with duel degrees in Film and Writing, Literature and Publishing.
I went through a few phases while in college: my nonlinear writing stage with its emphasis on violence and adult themes, my minimalist phase, which produced some of my least favorite work, and finally, my nonfiction phase (I don’t think phases is even the right word), which produced my senior honors thesis. Everything I’ve written so far has helped me hone in on my narrative voice and realize who I am as a writer (although I’m still learning). I realized after pushing myself to write nonfiction that I needed to get some of my own stories out onto the page before I could let go of a lot of the self consciousness and the chip that had been on my shoulder. One of my essays, which described my relationship with my brother, from as far back as I could remember up until he was about 13 and I was 11, won me my first writing award: my college’s annual award for Outstanding Nonfiction Prose.
Anyway, that pretty much brings me to the present. I’ve been involved with screenwriting for a while and I will continue to pursue that as well, but for the moment, I’m excited to write another book, and I’m definitely ready to move away from print-on-demand publishing. If it suits your needs then it’s a fine option (although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it at this point in my life), but I wouldn’t independently publish again. I’m ready for the “next step,” and all that truly means is that I need to keep writing and building a body of work. I’ve already gotten a head start on this newest book and have been working on it for almost 6 months now, but I’ll probably talk about that in my next post.
Update: Towards the end of my career at Emerson College I made the move to Los Angeles. I interned with Lions Gate Films in their Film Development office, which basically consisted of reading 1-2 feature scripts a day and writing coverage on them. I enjoyed it. Since graduation I worked as a TV and Feature Film extra (have you seen Valentine’s Day? I’m in there.) I also was a personal assistant to an extremely wealthy family in Brentwood, CA. Nice family, but I left that job to start working in the industry. I now work for a company that helps Indie filmmakers improve their projects. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to the Sundance Film Festival two years in a row and I’m very excited to attend for the third time in 2012. I’ve been actively writing, movie reviewing, and participating in film projects with friends. I have short term and long term goals, which I’ll keep writing about in this blog–
So, that’s pretty much my story, for now…thanks for listening!