It was not my first or even my second novel, but it was the first book I'd written in which I lost myself completely. I threw a protagonist onto the paper, watched her interact with other people in her life, followed her weird little self across several chapters, and sat back shaking my head. This was kind of a ridiculous time to start writing a book, right? I was about to start college. I was new in my college town and had new roommates. I had an apartment to finish settling in and exploring and socializing to do. Well, my character had other ideas.
So . . . it was essentially the birth of my life as a writer, if that makes sense.
For that reason, July 31--also the protagonist's canon birthday, 'cause I like being cute--is my "celebrate being a writer" day. Hey, people celebrate anniversaries and birthdays; why not celebrate one of the most important things in my life?
I usually celebrate by reading old stuff and writing new stuff.
It's pretty awesome.
Here's an old thing I scrawled as a teenager about being in the middle of the drafting process. It's cute. And has some similarities to my writing process of today--though I don't sit on the refrigerator and eat SpaghettiOs out of the can anymore.
Written while drafting my fourth book, age nineteen or so:
Up in the morning, mulling over weird book-related dream, wondering if there's any way you can work anything from the dream in as you get your orange juice, rejecting that as stupid, deciding all you can do is accept the insights you got in your dream as adding to the richness of the novel. . . .
Flopping into "writing position" on the bed to start chapter sixteen, crowded around with pillows, eventually kicking them away from you because they get in your way, growling at the papers you are scrawling on because they are wrinkled from being stuffed under your bed with the towels and that guitar you never play, wishing you had the money to buy actual paper so you wouldn't have to write on the backs of typed first-draft copies of earlier books. . . .
Growling at the stupid bitch because she decided to say something that made her opposite go off on a tangent that led you away from what you wanted to say and was the point of the chapter and made you lose your train of thought, throwing a couple shoes, pens, roommates. . . .
Hollering in angst because your soda is empty again and you only just opened it, realizing you're still in your clothes from yesterday and that you're tangled in your own hair. . . .
Physically attacking your roommate because he finds it necessary to play the song you hate on the piano without his earphones on, thinking whiny thoughts about him because he plays that song whenever he's bored, not because he needs to practice it because he's playing it quite a bit faster than the indicated tempo and obviously knows it already and wants to impress us and the neighbors with how well he plays. . . .
Laughing for almost fifteen consecutive minutes because your main character did something that neither of you have done before in either of your lives and it went over marvelously with a touch of humor. . . .
Realizing you need a bath . . . again. . . .
Holding the completed chapter in your hands three hours later, reading it over, reading it again out loud, wishing you could read it to someone else but they wouldn't understand because they haven't read the earlier chapters, which you would drop dead before showing to anyone before extensive editing. . . .
Enduring strange looks from your roommate's friends as you sit atop the refrigerator eating cold SpaghettiOs from the can and barking "what the hell're you lookin' at" for no particular reason. . . .
Getting immense pleasure out of the fact that you've consulted your writing handbook and discovered that you were, in fact, using dashes correctly. . . .
Getting ready to punch the wall when you realize that there is a day unaccounted for in your main character's life . . . brightening when you decide to use the silly excuse that she slept all day because she was tired . . . realizing how stupid that sounds but deciding no one will care or you'll just edit it later. . . .
Deciding you can't wait a second longer to begin chapter seventeen even though you have three people waiting for you to call them back and lots of homework to do and dishes to wash and laundry to do and your e-mail to answer and your hair to wash. . . .
Noticing with glee that you've decided to write the chapter, beginning with the main character waking up, on the back of chapter six of the last book, which featured your main character waking up. . . .
Realizing that your character is very sleepy and that you are too, and wondering (as you fall asleep on top of the pages) whether you are sleepy because she is or she is sleepy because you are or if the two have nothing to do with each other. . . .
Waking up and realizing you've slept longer than you wanted to and that there's precious writing time lost . . . and that now all you want to do is waste six or seven hours talking to strangers online. . . .
Writing at one in the morning at the Denny's counter, putting up with stupid questions from friendly waiters about whether you're doing your homework, letting them think you're flirting with them so you can get free food. . . .
Realizing you've written an obscene amount of pure crap . . . not feeling depressed at all, for some reason . . . reading over it again and again and realizing it's better than you thought. . . .
Thinking that if anyone tried to take your papers away from you as you were walking home in the dark at 4 AM that you would engage in physical combat before you'd let them have their way. . . .
Going home and dreaming strange dreams. . . .