Archive

Archive for August 30, 2011

My first novel: a retrospective – Part 1

August 30, 2011 9 comments

First, if you’re not interested in reading about past or current writing projects of mine, then it’s okay to simply skip this one. I won’t be offended 🙂

Well, you’re still here, so if you’re reading this blog in reverse order, i.e., most recent post first, then this one may not really make sense. For context, go back and read this post, then come back here.

Now, as for why I’m writing this particular post (and the several that will eventually follow), I’m not sure. I suppose it could be in response to my earlier blog entry noted above, the one where I talked about my first attempt at writing many years ago. It got me to thinking about lots of things, like who I was way back then, what I was trying to do, and what exactly it was that I accomplished and didn’t accomplish. The more I thought about it, the more details I remembered about what I’d done and why. So of course, I figured I may as well share them here.

I expect very few will find my earlier journey in life/writing all that interesting. I think the two who will enjoy this most will be my two sons, who, while they were quite young, were there with me during that time of my life. In the years since then, though they knew I had an interest in writing and that I’d worked at it for awhile when they were little, I never shared much about the experience with them. So, I hope at least they find this interesting reading. If anyone else does, then even better.

So, there I was. It was 1988 and I wanted to write a book. The only problem? I had no real understanding of how to go about it. All I really knew at the time was that I needed a computer for word processing. After a bit of research, I went out and bought an inexpensive (ok, cheap) machine with all of 640K memory, a 20 megabyte (that’s right, mega and not giga) hard drive, a monochrome (gold) monitor (graphics? who needs graphics), and an Okidata dot matrix (remember those?) printer. Not the most impressive equipment, but as far as I was concerned it was light years beyond having to cut my writing chops on an old-fashioned typewriter. I’m not sure I could have dealt with smacking those large, heavy keys for word after word after word, then having to make all those manual revisions one page at a time. Ouch. My hat is definitely off to all those writers who succeeded before computers and word processors.

Now the owner of new computer and a copy of PFS Write (a nifty word processor 23 years ago, it has since all but disappeared), I took off on my journey. As I recall, it was late at night the first time I sat down in front of the computer. I also remember that, as I sat there waiting for words to magically form in my head, somewhere off in the distance I could hear a dog barking. Inspired, I went on to write the first scene of my first novel, which I later entitled, “The Light”. Interestingly enough, that first scene remained in the final draft of the book, but it ended up later on in the story.

After that, most days I sat down and continued typing away on my book. Sometimes it would be in the morning before work; more often it would be late at night after everyone went to sleep. And sometimes, needing a little extra time with the story, I’d write it out in longhand in a notebook while hanging out with the kids on the weekend while their mother worked. Of course that was a double-edged sword: I got some additional writing done, but then I had to spend yet more time typing it all into the computer. I still have those notebooks, by the way, and occasionally, just for fun, I go back and read through what I scribbled in those pages. It’s fun, because as I read the words and sentences that I wrote so many years ago, I’m magically transported back in time. I can see myself sitting at our old dining room table, busily writing away while the boys played and ran around the house. Good times.

Several months later, I surprised even myself and completed the very first draft of the book that had, somehow, come out of my imagination. Good, bad, or indifferent, I was thrilled when I wrote these last two words:

THE END

I was elated and filled with an amazing sense of accomplishment. I’d set out to do something and I did it. Many people say they want to write a book someday, and I’d just done it. Ah, sweet victory. Of course, what I didn’t realize at the time is that I’d really only just begun the journey of completing a novel.

–dp

Categories: Writing

Halloween in August

August 30, 2011 1 comment

So last year, it was Christmas in July (see my post from my old blog). This year, it’s Halloween in August. Yep, that’s right: time for the Halloween stuff to come out. I don’t mind, though, because I always enjoy the holiday season. So what if it shows up a little early 🙂

–dp

Halloween in August

Categories: General