Monday, February 7, 2011

15 Novels in 5 Years...

Trunk novels. Most of us have them. To me, there are two levels of inactive manuscripts: trunked and abandoned. I have many of each, and I was inspired by Alex Bennett's blog post today (click here) to give you a tour of my past work. If anyone cares ;)

Well, I started writing little stapled-together stories complete with illustrations when I was six. I wrote my first story in my friend Maggie's kitchen. It was entitled "Lost Sheep Come to Me." Except that I wasn't great at spelling yet and I spelled "come" as "cum"... ahem. Moving on.

Nothing really interesting happened in my writing career until I was thirteen. I was writing a lot of fanfiction at that point (who wasn't?), and I had just finished writing a 50,000-word School of Rock fanfic when an author visited my French class. It was then, when the author said that her novel was 35,000 words, that I realized something special: I had written a novel. A whole freaking novel. I revised the fanfic to make it original (i.e., changed all the names and that's it) and was convinced I'd soon become a publishing phenomenon.

I didn't end up submitting that book, which was entitled Something Hardcore, and thank God. It was awful. I wrote a sequel, too, called Kerri's Turn, which was less awful but still BAD.

Then came a book called Roadies and Rockstars, about a girl who is a roadie for her brother's rock band. This was okay. I actually have pretty fond memories of this story.

4th novel: Ambulance, about two boys on opposite sides of the poverty spectrum who fall in love. Oh God, this book. I started writing it when I was fourteen and worked on it for FOUR years. It was passed around my high school chapter-by-chapter and made me a minor celebrity (super embarrassing!). It's finally trunked - I love the characters, the setting, the romance - but it has no story. Someday I'll go back to it and give it a real plot and I know it will be awesome.

5th novel: Roses. A kind of half-hearted novella about gay boys. Finished the first draft, then never touched it again.

6th novel: The Tulip Boy, about a seriously mentally ill stalker. Really, really weird and experimental and I hate it now.

7th novel: Jack and Angel never actually had a real title, so I just called it by the names of the characters. Another one about gay boys. This is a recurring motif in my work :)

8th novel: Ghost. Sequel to Ambulance. Sucked.

9th novel: Skull. Another sequel to Ambulance.

10th novel: Didn't have a title, but I wrote it for NaNoWriMo 2008. About a girl superhero.

11th novel: The Superhero Effect, a superhero dystopia written for NaNoWriMo 2009. I worked on this for quite a while before trunking it about a year ago.

12th novel: The List of Heroes, sequel to The Superhero Effect, trunked as soon as it was written.

13th novel: FAKE. The One. The one I've queried, the one I've gotten requests for, the one I'm revising for my resubmission now.

14th novel: An Elegant Noise, written for NaNoWriMo 2010, about a girl who falls in love with a lesbian mermaid. I liked writing it, but it will never go anywhere.

15th novel: As Long As I'm Lying. About a boy who falls in love with his girlfriend's brother. I'm working on the first draft.

What can we learn from all this? That I'm a loser with no life outside writing. Nobutseriously.

Writing is a major lifestyle choice. A lot of people can't handle it. I was always socially awkward, so it was really easy for me to devote myself to such a solitary pursuit. When I tell people I've written 15 novels, they freak out. Ask how I could possibly do it at my age. Well, it's a calling, not a hobby. It's just what I do.

Another thing: I didn't start my journey towards publication until my 13th novel. I was researching and learning about publishing the whole time I was writing, but I knew my writing wasn't ready. Too many people fire off their very first novel and expect to get an agent and publishing deal the next week. The truth is that writing takes a ton of practice. Your first novel probably isn't the one that's going to make it big. And that's okay! If you're practicing, you can only improve.

Now, back to revisions for me!


  1. "Trunked," now that is a good word. I am going to have to start using that one. Love the low-down on your journey toward publication. Each new novel is like a new set of glasses to see yourself through.

  2. Awesome post. So funny and true and awesome :)

    I think I've written 4-5 novels? I'd have to go back and count... that'll be an interesting post one of these days! Haha. And can I just say... your titles are amazing! Mine are complete crap. A lot of those stories sound promising! ;)

  3. That's so impressive. I have nearly the same amount, but they're all in various stages of incompleteness - some are even just piles of notes with no real story attached yet. :-P I tend to hop so often, I doubt I'll ever get a complete novel written. XD

    And for some reason, the title for 'The Tulip Boy' just really resonates for me. It's the kind of title that really, really makes me want to pick it up. ;D

  4. I probably have way more than 15... these are just the completed ones! There are plenty of rough outlines and abandoned first chapters in between! /sigh... makes me tired just thinking about it.

    And thanks for the title love... making up titles is so much more fun than making up plots for them :P