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Sess and Rin under the stars
farawayeyes4
Hey,

Almost two years ago now, I started a writing project. I hadn't written hardly anything in years, hadn't done anything with my degree (Creative Writing), and really hadn't thought much about doing anything but going to work. I came across a little show that could called Supernatural (I'll save you that story. You can read it here) and suddenly I started to think about story and writing again. It really took me two months into watching the show to have an idea nag at me. It nagged and nagged and nagged until on January 6, 2011 I sat down and started some simple sketches on that idea.

The idea itself is inspired by Supernatural, in particular the episode "In My Time of Dying." In that episode, Dean Winchester is trapped as a spirit, hovering between life and death. He is faced with his Reaper, Tessa, and the decision to either go with her and move on into his afterlife OR to remain trapped as a spirit forever because he was going to die no matter what. Dean never has to make that decision, although up until Azazel possesses Tessa after making a deal with John Winchester, it seems that Dean was going to choose option A. I found myself fascinated by option B.

What makes someone an angry spirit? What makes someone linger here and go mad? How does that begin or what path would they need to take? It was so simple and I figured I'd write a short story. I was wrong about what I was writing.

As I started to make my sketches, both in my head and on paper, about my characters and the story premise, it started to take a life of its own. I'm still not sure about the process that took me from a simple question to a completed novel.

I dabbled, writing a false first chapter for about four months, mostly feeling my characters out. I named them Jared Oaks and Mandy Oaks. I had a fanciful notion of casting these characters with real actors, as if someday this story would be transformed into a screenplay and a movie. I cast Jared Padalecki for Jared Oaks and Leighton Meester for Mandy Oaks. It allowed me to really SEE my characters. It allowed me to HEAR them. I picked up on small quirks and gestures that translated from both actor's performances in various projects that translated into my characters on the page. It allowed me to make Jared Oaks and Mandy Oaks into REAL people on the page. They were no longer just vague ideas or sketches plugged into the equation to explore the question. They became fleshed out people that felt and endured and deisred and experienced.

The tapestry only became richer when I divided Jared Oaks into two. One was his spirit self, the other was his reflection. I had my protagonist and antagonist in one fell swoop. What can I say? I really love seeing Jared Padalecki act off of himself (see "Swan Song" or "The Man Who Knew Too Much" for fine examples of his skill doing this) and here was my chance to create a character that had two sides seen on the page with distinct qualities separate from each other yet still fused into a strange whole. It opened up a lot more questions. It also allowed for the conflict to focus not just on the situation but on Jared Oaks himself.

I began to pick up threads of motifs and themes that coincided each character and the over all story. Catholicism became a dividing line which allowed for Jared Oaks and Mandy Oaks to become foils. Forgivenss and the ability or inability to do so became another. Senseless death laced through out the story in various ways. Reflections figuratively and literally emerged on the page in ways I didn't anticpiate. Latin, a dead language, became another symbol used through out.

In 2011 I attended my first Supernatural Convention in New Jersey. I purchased the Meet and Greet ticket for Jared Padalecki. It was to be a half an hour with 19 other people in the room. I knew if I didn't try for the auction I'd regret it. I joked with friends before going that I'd mention this little project I was working on never thinking I'd have the guts to do it. After all, technically that'd be against the Creation rules. When push came to shove, however, I managed to do it. I asked Jared openly about how he approaches story and character as an actor as opposed to how writers do so. I remember asking bluntly, "I'm a writer and I don't understand actors, so how do you approach story as an actor?" He smiled, dimples and everything, and replied, "I don't understand writers." He went on to explain he tries to approach scenes as organically as possible.

Without realizing it, I had found my way around the rules of not pitching any ideas during the Meet and Greet. Jared asked me what I was working on. I remember saying that it was a fiction piece. Then I bluntly said, "If it is ever turned into a screenplay there is only one actor I'd want to for the lead role: YOU." Jared was taken back by that and later in the autograph line he said, "Thanks for writing that novel. I'd really like to read it."

So that's how I knew I was writing a novel. Once home I sat down and became really serious about my book. I wanted to write the best one I could in a year's time and give him a copy. Fast forward to October 2012 and I did just that. I gave it to him, had him sign my own copy, and he simply said, "I'll read it and we'll see" about him starring in any potential movie made from it. I have no idea what he did with his copy. I don't know if he kept it. I don't know if he's reading it or has read it. I don't know if he liked it or hated it. But I do know I managed to complete the goal with which I set out to do. I finished it and I handed it to him as I said I would. I was smart enough to provide my contact information for him so that he could give me feedback. I do not expect to hear anything, but one never knows what may or may not happen down the road.

I can only thank him for inspiring me to finish it.

So now what? What did I learn from this? What did I take from my experience of writing it and giving it to him? Where do I go from here?

Since Chicago these questions have been dominating my mind. I've found myself become anxious. Without a goal that has an end date in mind, I can't help but flounder. I want to get my book published. I want the world to read it and enjoy it and take something from it. Problem is, despite having my degree I was never taught HOW to market my work or how to navigate the publishing world.  I am now little by little learning it on my own and it is daunting and scary and I fear it may be years before I get to see my book published. It is frustrating. I am hoping that once the new year is in and I can reach out to some of my professors that I can find the next step on that path so I can do something with this book other than hand it to Jared Padalecki.

Yet, I know that the only way to do it is to keep going, to come back to my novel in the new year and start rewriting/editing/tooling it so that I can get it on the market somehow. Do I see it ever being like Fifty Shades or Hunger Games or Twilight or whatever big book comes along to oversaturate the market and end up in the trash bin at some point? Good God no. It's not like those books. I just want it to find its own place and its own readers and make an impact in some way, even if it never reaches those heights. I'm hoping that my book will touch someone, anyone, and make them feel or rethink or understand something they didn't before reading it. I want them to see their world differently than they did before.

What did I learn from writng this novel? I learned that I could do something if I put my mind to it, which means I know I can get it published. I learned that once I start a novel project and I start a first draft, I had better write that full draft as quickly as I can so that I can start to rewrite, reshape, revise a few times in that year. It lets the whole thing out on the page so I can then have a beginning, middle, and end to work with. I learned that there's something inside me that needs to have a voice in fiction. I learned that I'm not a happy writer. I don't write fluff or happy endings. I don't seem to write those kinds of feel good stories. I learned that working on this novel revealed some of the hurts and desperations I feel watching my father struggle with his illness and that some of what happens in the text is a direct translation of my feelings on it. I learned that sometimes emotional pain needs an outlet like this to keep oneself together. Letting someone else fall apart on the page utterly keeps me from doing so in reality, I think.

I have been reading a screenwriting book in order to figure out the tools to write the screenplay myself---to undertand it. And I have found that while there's probably things that need to be revised in my novel, and that screenwriting is different than novel writing, the skeleton they both use is inherently there in my novel already. I can mentally check off this or that "ingredient" in my novel without rereading it, knowing that it is there in some form. It makes me both doubt what I've done (did I tell the story right? Did I put the right sequence of events together? Did I make my characters right?) and see that I've done well in telling a complete story with an ending. Once I return to the novel to edit we shall see how right or wrong I am.

I am hoping, by this time next year, that I have done a lot to get my book published, that it is on its way to bookshelves or being considered or whatever. I'm hoping by this time next year I can be working on novel 2. Who knows what the new year might bring. Perhaps Jared Padalecki himself will respond to it, tell me his thoughts, let me know how it afffected him. Maybe by this time next year I will have done even more than I could have ever imagined with my little book.

Until then I just have to keep carrying on, pushing forward, and working to get my book out there--no matter what it takes.

Far Away Eyes

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