Friday, 2 September 2011

Another writing day

I'm going to branch out a bit with this blog. There's only so many entries I can make about healthy eating; so I'll write about what's going on in my life. Right now I'm editing my novel, Small Dreams. I have been working on this novel for a really long time.

I've always loved writing but focused on poems and short stories all through school. When I started writing my novel, I was 25 years old with a newborn. I read you should write about what you know so I took some aspects of my life... fairly young, broke and starting a family then modified it. The novel is about a young broke couple named Jessica and Chris. It starts with them realizing Jessica's pregnant and follows their lives through her pregnancy right to the birth (with an epilogue at the first birthday party).

When I started writing I wanted the novel to be "different" so I wrote it in diary format. Several months later I decided that wasn't working and changed it into a standard first-person novel. I worked on it during nap time then put it aside after my son was born. The kids are 22 months apart and I found writing a novel tricky with a toddler and a newborn.

Several years passed, my husband and I separated, and the kids started school. Suddenly I had a bit more time and remembered the book I'd started. I took a hard look at the book and realized it was way too unrealistic. Other than Jessica's abusive family, everything was pretty much perfect. They found a gorgeous house for rent where they paid several hundred dollars less than market rent and had landlords that were more like grandparents. All their issues ended up like this. A problem would occur and something even better would instantly fall in their laps. Life was pretty sweet for the two of them. And it was boring as hell.

There was an apartment we viewed when I was pregnant with my daughter although we never looked seriously at it. It was in downtown Oshawa right near several bars and there were a gazillion and one stairs to climb. But the apartment was a good size and quirky and stuck in my mind for years, so I wrote it into the novel instead. It wasn't perfect but it was convenient and honestly cheap. The sort of place a young and broke couple could find easily and turn into a home.

Of course an unfinished novel doesn't bring in money. I went back to school, full time, while working and raising two kids. The novel went on the back burner... and stayed there while I worked full time, went back to school again, then got a new job working 45 hours a week.

Several years later my work hours changed dramatically leaving me no real option except quitting. The other option was leaving two preteen children, both on the autism spectrum, home alone from after school to bedtime every weekday. Yeah, really not an option. For the next year, until I found a new job, I blitzed on the novel. Then it was done. I typed the last sentence and thought "what do I do now?".

I emailed it to a friend who told me I needed to cut out at least a hundred pages. Silly me, I'd been worried the book was too short and had been padding it to make it longer! I revised for a while then got an idea for a second novel... then alternated between revising and writing.

That was when I realized something was wrong with my computer. I'd spend several hours editing my first novel and cut out several pages. Then I'd open the novel later and I'd be back to the original amount of pages. Some work would save and some just disappeared and there was no way to tell what saved until after the novel was closed then reopened. It didn't matter if I saved to a memory stick, email, or an external hard drive... the spotty saves happened with all. And I couldn't afford to get the computer repaired or replaced. Writing came to a complete halt and didn't start up again until I bought a netbook this summer.

Right now I'm editing the beginning of the novel. It's the oldest and has some obvious glitches. It was originally diary entries and any dialogue had simply been Jessica's memories of what had been said. When I turned it into a first person novel, I went back and turned those memories into conversations but there were still a lot of spots where conversation should have been happening and she's sitting around describing the situation instead.

The second issue was the beginning was boring. Which is a pretty weak selling feature for a novel LOL. I'd made a calendar as a timeline for the novel and got it into my head that I *had* to write about what they did almost every day. There wasn't a lot of description and there were a heck of a lot of days. They find out about the pregnancy at the end of August and it wasn't until November that I realized I could not write about every day for the whole pregnancy. A lot of days have been hacked out. You can assume that Jessica and Chris worked those days then came home, cooked dinner, and farted around the apartment until bedtime... doing whatever newlyweds do... without me detailing every single day of it. You're welcome :o)

And, if I'm going to get two hours of revising in today, I better get this saved and pry myself off the internet!

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