My fiancé and I went to dinner with one of his colleagues this week. After the somewhat mandatory half an hour of technical gibberish that I’ve come to expect from one of these dinners, the colleague turned from C and looked at me. He then proceeded to ask my least favorite question. “What is it that you do?”
I hate this question because it’s difficult to answer. Obviously, he meant to ask what I do for a living—but of course that wasn’t the question he asked.
I could have told him that I quit my job last March, and have been working several part time administrative jobs while I revise the novel I wrote last year, all in the hope of publishing it.
But naturally, this explanation isn’t what the man wants to hear, it’s really far too complex, and while I’m debating how exactly to boil down the truth to a pat sentence that makes sense, C (who would shout this from the rooftops if he could), boasts, “she’s a writer.”
Don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful that he’s so proud. I love how sure and succinct he is about it, as if there is no question that a writer is truly what I am. He’s a tech guy, so in true binary fashion, he sees things in black and white. I write, therefore, I must be a writer. And of course, I’m somewhat proud of myself. Writing a novel isn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for me, and if anyone out there tells you it was easy for them, they’re lying.
For the last few days, I’ve been trying to figure out why the question (and its answer) bother me so much, as well as desperately trying to figure out a way to start this blog without sounding horribly egotistical or mind-numbingly boring all while making out that I genuinely believe someone will read this.
Let’s face it. The moment you announce you’re a writer, there’s a typical succession of questions that you’re subjected to. They’re sometimes difficult to answer, but with the slight veneer of anonymity, I feel a lot more comfortable. Shall we?
What have you written?
A novel, The Lucky Charm, a romantic comedy about a woman who hates baseball and a man who couldn’t live without it.
Wow, that must have been tough.
You have no idea. I started work on The Lucky Charm in the beginning of 2012. Last fall, with about 30,000 words written and getting nowhere fast, I decided to participate in Nanowrimo, the National Writing Month. I committed to writing 50,000 words during the month of November, and planned on adding those words to what I already had, either finishing the novel or getting a heck of a lot closer.
For a lot of people, Nanowrimo is an amazing thing. It’s not really all that difficult if you are disciplined about a daily word count, which averages about 1600 words a day. If I’m focused, I can usually manage that in an hour or two. Unfortunately, what Nanowrimo doesn’t allow you to do is take really any time at all to think about what you’re writing. You’re only writing.
Again, this works for a lot of people. They’ve done their thinking ahead of time, maybe, or they don’t need thinking. Unfortunately, I’m a person who needs to think a lot. You would have thought I would have had time to do this during the I don’t know, six months before I started Nanowrimo and I would have worked out all my issues already.
As you have probably already surmised, that actually hadn’t really happened. Why is this? I’m not sure, actually, which is perhaps a bit worrisome, especially if I try to prevent it from happening on the book I’m working on now. All I know is that about three quarters of the way through November, I realized I had a major problem. More than one, actually. I knew something major was going to need to change plot-wise and I couldn’t really face up to it.
I still hit the 50,000 word mark and yet still had a good chunk of the book left. If I even wanted to keep the words I’d written for Nanowrimo.
I remember thinking during December and January—months I forced myself to take off for a variety of reasons, burnout being one, an extremely busy work schedule being another—that maybe The Lucky Charm was something that wasn’t meant to come to fruition.
February rolled around, and I toyed with the idea of scrapping everything and starting fresh. Maybe with hockey instead of baseball. I mentally tried out a dozen ideas to try to fix the issues inherent in the story. Maybe it was work-related stress or maybe it was frustration and boredom with the story, but I struggled and stalled out again.
March was the low point. I’d been fairly happy, if not extremely busy, at my job. I worked at a CPA firm, managing his 200+ payroll clients. It was an incredibly left-brain thing for me to do, and when I received my bachelor’s degree in English, I never thought I’d be working with the dreaded math all day, every day, but I was pretty happy. At least for a time. Things at my job came to a head in March, and I had to face the fact that not only was I no longer happy in that position and at that company, I was unhappy and unfulfilled in my life in general.
Of course, C begged me to quit. That’s the kind of guy he is—he isn’t typically a leap first, look later type, but if I’m unhappy, that’s all it takes. He just wanted me to find something I loved. He suggested I leave and devote the sixty hour weeks I was spending at my job to writing instead. E-publishing was reaching a worldwide frenzy by this point, and the obvious suggestion was to finish The Lucky Charm and publish it myself.
I honestly don’t know if I would have done it if the job hadn’t soured so horribly. Maybe if I’d continued being pretty happy, I would have stayed there, gotten my payroll certifications, and The Lucky Charm would have merely festered on my laptop’s hard drive, a foolish reminder of that silly time of my life when I thought I could be a writer as a job.
But things did sour, and I did quit, and after quitting, I had some (okay, lots) of time on my hands to figure out what exactly was wrong with The Lucky Charm.
The short answer? A whole lot of things. I ended up taking out most of what I had written for Nanowrimo—I would estimate about 5% of it stayed, in small bits and scenes, most of which were in a completely different order than before.
Over the spring and summer, I started on the long road to basically re-writing the middle and the end of the novel. Like a good soufflé, the middle needs to be puffy and light, and basically support its own weight. You don’t want it collapsing in, leaving a huge ass crater in the middle of your novel, and after Nanowrimo, the crater in The Lucky Charm looked like the Grand freaking Canyon.
I officially finished the first full draft of The Lucky Charm in late August.
What’s The Lucky Charm about?
It’s about Izzy Dalton, who messes up big time and almost ruins her career. She gets a second chance and it’s a sideline reporting job for the Portland Pioneers, an expansion Major League Baseball team. It’s in Portland that she meets Jack Bennett, who plays second base for the Pioneers. Sparks fly. I could fill in a lot more clichés, but that’s the gist of it.
When I can buy The Lucky Charm?
If everything goes according to plan (*crosses fingers*), you should be able to download the novel from most online retailers in the beginning of 2014. More updates on the release schedule to follow.
Why are you writing about baseball?
Um. Baseball is awesome. I’d love to write about the Boston Red Sox, but they might not like that very much. Plus, there have been rumors for years about a major league team in Portland. I actually wish the Pioneers were real; then I wouldn’t have to drive up to Seattle to get my baseball fix.
So the Pioneers aren’t real?
Nope, they’re a completely fictional team that I dreamed up. But hope springs eternal. Maybe someday we’ll get a real major league team here.
Don’t I know you from fanfiction.net?
Yep, you do. I wrote quite a few fanfiction stories, all under the name bethaboo. They’re all still up. The Lucky Charm is a completely original novel. Aside from my general fascination with sports and snarky heroines, it doesn't have anything in common with my fanfiction.
Are you done talking about yourself already?
Definitely. For now, anyway. I plan on writing a ton of blogs on what I did wrong while I wrote The Lucky Charm, and what I did right (though we all know which is more interesting), and a lot of other miscellaneous crap. Recipes, cool youtube videos, TV shows I like to binge on, movies I couldn’t live without, awesome stuff that C does, pretty much anything else I can think of. Now that I’ve started, I may never shut up again.