Angry Angel Novel

If you’ve been a member of my Facebook group ( or followed me on Twitter ( you’ve noticed a fair amount of writing content in addition to my usual book reviews and essays. Since NaNoWriMo in November 2017 and attending the AWP writer’s conference in March of this year, I’ve been exploring writing/author Twitter and researching the worlds of agents and publishing, mostly because I’m discovering that I have a story in my head and I wanted to know how I might get it out into the world.

The summer of 2018 will be the first summer since 1997 that I will be free to do what I wish. I mean, I have a 4 day AP Statistics training to attend in July, and the husband and I are taking an anniversary weekend in St. Augustine just before that, but that’s like 7 days out of 65 total days between this school year and the next.

It’s not a lot of time. A fiction novel meant for adults tends to be around 100,000 words, and a first draft must be edited, read by trusted friends and colleagues, revised, and sent out to agents once it feels “done” to me. As a first time author, I would probably have to pitch with a complete manuscript because I am a higher risk and an unknown.

The mathematician in me says that 100,000 divided by 65 is about 1540 words per day. My depression says “ha, bitch, I’d like to see you try!” The teacher in me says, “a little each day means success in the end.” The failure says, “one more thing to start and never finish.” The reader, “I can do this.” The writer, “You only need a pen and paper, and you have computers too – you have everything you need to put words down, in order, many times over.”

There are a lot of internal voices that have opinions about this new endeavor. The loudest is the logical side of my brain that insists that I have the time, I have the resources, and I have friends that will help me. I have nothing to lose. The husband supports my efforts. It shouldn’t cost me anything. So, logically, as long as I can set that daily word count and stick to it, I can at least write my first draft. Everyone says that’s the hardest part. If I can do that, then I can handle the rest.

Starting tomorrow I will be writing a novel. The first in a series. Wish me luck. It seems as though it is a required element of the process. Posting here may reduce for the summer, but I will give occasional updates and a couple of reviews a week since I will, of course, still be reading.

And you should be too. Check out my summer reading list suggestions right here tomorrow!

Read. Be brave. Stay angry. Have a great summer, angels.

On Writing

On writing

Since NaNoWriMo 2017, I have had a story knocking around in my mind. I can see it. I dream about it. Unfortunately every day I’m too tired to sit down in the evenings to write more of it. But it’s still there. This summer my plan is to set a daily word count goal and hit it while I have the time and energy to get it down on paper. Before then I wanted to read about writing, to get an idea of process and motivation, and the first little book on the docket was On Writing, Stephen King’s 2000 memoir about the craft.

Reading about King’s lower middle class upbringing brought me back to my roots. Granted I didn’t grow up in the 40s and 50s, but Maine is slow to change and so some of the conditions he describes are still familiar to me. Reading about the University of Maine Orono and teaching in Hermon brought me back to my own college days. Reading about his journey was like traveling back in time, back to Maine, back to my childhood. I devoured that part of book with the excitement that accompanies recognition. I know those places! I know those things!

His personal story includes his change in fortune with the successful sale of his first novel, Carrie. Following this we take a short journey through his battle with addiction to drugs and alcohol, and then through to sobriety and how he discovered that writing doesn’t require outside influences, that it’s always inside you. I know it sounds a little woo-woo, but the way he wrote about it makes you believe that it is 100% true. His struggle back to health and writing after being hit by a speeding van is a story most Mainers are familiar with, but hearing it straight from King brought it to the present again. It was difficult to read.

I enjoyed his personal history just as much as his advice on writing, which begins about a third of the way in. His writer’s toolbox containing grammar, vocabulary, style is individual to each person and shouldn’t be used to shame others. He implores us to avoid passive tense and adverbs. And perhaps the most important advice of all for me is to have a set routine so that I always write at the same time every day, and always until a word count is met. Not only this, but also that I should be in a room with a door that I am my family are comfortable with me shutting to show I am serious about working on writing.

I was given a gift by this book, and that gift was permission to write a book even though I don’t have an MFA or even a degree in English. I can be a teacher and a reader and a writer and as long as I take the time to write and am open to the editing process, this could happen for me. I just have to tell a good story. More importantly, I have to tell the truth. When I closed On Writing, a light had been turned up to 100% brightness inside me and my characters roared even louder, demanding to be brought to life.

Hold on guys, the summer is almost here.