Reflections on My Writing History

COLOSSUS is not my first novel. It is my first published novel, but not my first novel, nor my first publication.

I’ve been a writer since I was little, writing short stories – mostly fan fictions – and poetry. In high school, my classmates would pass around the dirty stories I wrote. My first publication was when a teacher (RIP Leslie Walker) published a poem of mine about the Trail of Tears. In college, I published a poem entitled ABORTION in Mercer’s literary magazine, the Dulcimer.

As a freshman at Mercer, I wrote a short literary story that I pushed to have published, but it was too confusing, I think. I missed the mark at getting my point across.

I wrote my first novel when I was a sophomore. It was a thriller-romance called PERFECT WORDS. I had challenged myself to write a novel based on a sonnet, and I met that challenge. I even queried it. Unfortunately, I didn’t research before querying, and I never considered rewriting, revising, or even editing. The plot was improbable. The only thing the novel has going for it was the characters. I wrote some pretty lovely, engaging characters, to the point that, even though the plot fell apart, one reader said he felt like I had hit him in the face with a shovel upon reading the tragic ending. I guess I got that part right as well. If I had researched how to write well, I would have been able to mold the novel into something marketable. Despite this, it – like all of my other abandoned works – sits in a manila envelope in my office closet.

I also wrote three screenplays that were fantastic, but I had absolutely no intention of shopping them around. (One was a NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET prequel that I worked on with two friends, and all I wanted was for Robert Englund to read it. Alas!) I found screenplays incredibly easy to write, because you don’t have to worry about POV, internal dialogue, sensory details. I might dust one of those off, a family drama entitled GENTLEMEN LESSONS, someday, and shop it around.

During my period of domestic abuse, I never really wrote anything. It took me a year or so to get back to it after that period ended as well. I know now that if I had been writing, that period would have been much easier on me, as I find writing to be a method of self-medicating my anxiety.

A couple of years ago, I wanted to write a zombie-esque novel called THE AFFLICTED, but while I had characters and a strong beginning, I could not scrape together the middle or end of a plot. I abandoned that concept to focus on short stories. I wrote three and shopped them all around. One, THE BISCUIT, was published by The Fem literary magazine. One I decided to self-publish (APRIL 4TH). The other (SINGING TAYLOR SWIFT IN THE SNOW) was crap, so it’s sitting in my Google Drive until it decides to behave. I may have posted it on my blog, but it was so long ago, I don’t recall.  
That is when I started writing MY NAME IS NOT HEATHER STOKES. It was not what I intended when I started, but I am certainly happy with the results, and my future plans.

 

(I apologize if some of this material is repetitive of previous posts; I intended to publish it only on my Facebook, then changed my mind.)

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