Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Endings and Beginings

I started writing what I came to think of as the 'YAGSIP' (YA ghost story in progress) in July of 2011.  The story started with 5 handwritten pages in a small notebook I bought at Readercon. 

Usually, I travel with pen and paper, but I forgot to pack one of the many Staples brand single subject notebooks I buy every back-to-school time.  (Best writing bargain ever--they were on sale this year for .08 each!) Luckily, the folks at Clarkesworld Magazine had these little blank books for sale.  This one reminded me of an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon I loved, so that was the one that I bought.

I didn't have much of an idea, other than a visual of an abandoned amusement park and a grieving teenager. I knew she had lost someone dear to her and that she was a photographer.  Other than that, it was all up for grabs.

 The first lines I wrote were in her voice:

Grief makes people squirrely.  They want you to be over it, coping, strong.  If there's some expiration date on pain, then I guess I'm way past it.

Once I discovered who she was, I needed to find a name for her, a history, a goal, and obstacles.  All those things, and more, unfolded over the course of the next 8 months.

On Sunday, I finished the novel, all 78.5K words of it.  Well, the first draft, anyway.  It takes more than 8 months of furious writing to create a novel.  Now that I have the raw material, the real work begins.

There will be revising, editing, and proofreading.  Maybe multiple rounds of each.  As well as the brainstorming on coming up with a title.  All this will happen in the next half year and I will do my best to be patient with the story and do it the justice it deserves.

This was an emotionally difficult piece to write.  While it was not *my* story, it was a story of loss and grief, and it resonated with the losses I have experienced in my own life.  Even when writers make stuff up, we root it in our lived experiences, so it will have its own truth. Without that spark of emotional truth, the story cannot hope to connect with the reader. 

At least that is my experience.  Every story I have written has to have something real at its core, or I cannot be fully engaged in the writing of it.  And if the writer is not engaged, the reader will not be, either.

I am grateful for all the comments and support I received from readers along the way when I posted snippets of Tess and Marco's story.  Thank you for taking the journey with me.

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