So rather than make that previous post a whole book in and of itself, I’ll start a new post.

I have started taking my writing more seriously lately. I’ve met a couple of people now who are published authors, and there’s a bookstore locally that hosts a monthly meeting for local writers. I really want to go but the timing has never worked out — I’m either out of town or have guests or have another commitment. Someday.

I started writing something back when I was in 9th grade (I wrote my first complete original story in the 6th grade — it was dumb but whaddya want, I was in the 6th grade). I won’t go into detail because that starts to cross the line into personal stuff I won’t put on the internet. But it centers on a family of six adult siblings, and as I wrote and explored different angles on it over the years, I found that I loved one character more than any other. Way more than the others, and easier to write for too, because I “knew” her so well by that point. I’m also really handicapped from writing many many chapters of another novel in 1st person — I’ve actually lost the ability to write in the 3rd person, or so it feels. So writing “equally” for six characters became really difficult to the point of impossible, and I think it was while talking about it on the phone with my friend Amy, kind of out of the blue really, I really realized that I had to change the focus of the novel to this one character, and include parts of her life before being reunited with her siblings. Again, without going into detail, this completely destroyed the structure of the novel, which was nice and parallel. The only time I ever bothered with “structure of a novel” and I go and ruin it. I thought off and on about how I could rework it, actually coming up with some of it in that conversation with Amy, but couldn’t come up with how to start it. Originally there was a one-chapter prologue, then jump 10 years to the body, then jump 10 years to a one-chapter epilogue (see, nice and parallel). This was untenable with the new focus.

And then, while in a meeting at work, I tuned out (I’ve come up with lots of great fiction ideas during meetings at work, hah, hopefully no higher-ups at work will ever see this!) and focused on the beginning. And it came to me. And I went home that day and wrote it, wrote it until about 2 or 3 in the morning when I finally finished. And I was happy with it. Not ecstatic with it, but happy with it. (I think perhaps I am like other writers when I say that I often love what I write and hate it all at the same time.) It had a bit of foreshadowing, a bit of light symbolism (mostly in terms of what I’d now call blocking, after watching lots of DVD commentaries — I often picture a scene being played out as if on screen), an opening that is hopefully intriguing enough to catch a reader’s interest and keep him/her turning at least a couple of pages to see what’s going on, and it sets a mood and a feel for core relationships without hitting you over the head with it. Darn, I sound like I’m quite impressed with myself. Well, not really. I wasn’t pleased with how I ended it (I stink at endings — watch the commentary for Bend it Like Beckham, at the end. I totally get it.) for one thing. I was just surprised at how fairly easily and quickly it came out of me and onto the page. And it really made me think, hey, maybe I can really turn this into a novel that could actually be sold. I hadn’t thought seriously about that at all — not since high school anyway — until talking with a published author.

You see, mostly I write for fun. I want character and drama and emotion and dynamicity. I can create a million characters, a million worlds, a million stories. It’s FUN! And I would never want to sacrifice that for commercialization. It’s not like I’m thinking I could make a living off it or something. Apparently it’s next-to-impossible to get fiction published. So why think of publishing at all? A roller-coaster is fun by yourself. But it’s tons more fun with other screaming people along for the ride! I would love to share it and think others are hopefully having fun too. At the same time, when I’m writing for fun, for my fun, and expressing things that come out of me and things that in some ways (though probably not obvious ways even if you know me, unless I’ve already told you) are intensely personal, the thought of someone rejecting or criticizing it (in some ways — I think there are many types of helpful criticism I would actually not mind at all, and some I would be grateful for) is pretty terrible. In a way, if you reject something I have written, characters and events that have come out of me, you have rejected me. I imagine all writers feel that way.

I’m looking forward to being able to talk more with writers. I’m hoping one of them will give me ideas on how to relearn writing in the 3rd person. How in the world do you write from multiple points of view? How do you get into characters’ heads without doing this? It sounds so simple — and I used to have no problem with it — but try writing 40+ chapters of first person over a span of more than a decade and then writing for multiple characters in 3rd person. Argh. Actually of course there are many more things I can learn from talking with other writers, but this one is really bugging me and has been for probably at least a couple of years, believe it or not.