Celebrating 9 Years of Novel-Writing

Today is the 9-year anniversary of the first time I finished a novel. I wish I had something more profound to say today, but the truth is my life has kicked into High-Gear Overwhelmingness.

My day job company has been moving buildings, and as the coordinator for this effort my life has been consumed by the move. The month-long process should theoretically be over this weekend, but even once all the physical items are moved there’s still the myriad issues to deal with that come with a new building and figuring out new processes.

Boring stuff aside, I have gotten to do some really fun things lately, like going up to Nashville two weeks ago for an all-day writing session with my friend Kat Zhang. I wrote 5.5k on Nameless that day, and the momentum has been carrying me forward ever since.

Or going up again last week to see Toni Morrison, my favorite author and writing idol, give a speech to Vanderbilt University (trip made possible due to the generosity of Kat). Though I was running late for yet another work event, I managed to slip into her book signing and stand two feet away from her as she signed my book. Even if we didn’t technically get to meet (the woman has more handlers and security than I thought possible), I was there, I saw her speak, and at the end of her speech she blessed the audience, so I’ve been carrying that gem around with me.

Sleeping Beauty just got back from its last critique partner so along with the conclusion of my company’s move I feel like I’m getting back to my regular groove. I’ve been Corporate!Savannah these past few weeks, and I’m excited to feel like Writer!Savannah again.

The rewrite of Nameless is going swimmingly, and I’m stunned and thrilled to learn that even after all these years the characters still have some surprises for me. I think going back to the adult category was definitely the right choice. I’ve also decided to let go of nearly a decade of ‘canon’ and just let the characters tell me what they truly want and who they truly are. I realized that when you start to write a book, your first book, at 15, and you don’t really know much about writing and character development, and so maybe you shouldn’t hold on to those long-ago established ‘facts’ if they are blocking the true story’s development.

With all the rewrites of Nameless before, I sometimes felt… icky is the best word for it, I guess. Like this was just the same old crap I’d always done, and rewording it was like putting fresh lipstick on a pig. An amazing pig, mind you ;) But outdated. No heartbeat underneath. A zombie Nameless, if you will.

This draft has life.

Over the past 9 years I’ve written 7 individual novels, and completed countless revisions and rewrites. The funny part is, when I think of myself as a writer it feels I’ve been that way for eons, but I’ve only been a novelist for approximately 9.5 years. I look at other writers I admire, Toni Morrison included, and look at how many decades they’ve spent perfecting their craft. I know I have a long way to go, and I’m actually grateful.

In the YA community especially I feel like there’s always the sense of ‘now is the only time you have’. And aside from the existential truth of that, I try to remind myself that today, this year, is not the only chance I have to be the best I can be.

All those writers I admire, who make me bemoan my own writing… they have been writing so much longer. I am so grateful for the progress I’ve made, and so excited for the hopefully many, many years to come when I can improve myself and get to the point where I feel like I’m doing my best.

Or maybe that point never comes. But doing better, definitely. Writing at a level equal with those I admire? That’s my goal.

For however long you’ve made the noveling journey with me, thank you <3


One thought on “Celebrating 9 Years of Novel-Writing

  1. Caitlin Vanasse says:

    YAY! I didn’t know you’d gotten to see Toni Morrison, that sounds like a dream come true and I’m so glad Nameless edits are going well. Yay for amazing springtime good things.

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