Pre-Incarnations of the Book

Yesterday I left you with a little bait: I have written a complete book and it has a language in it that requires a pronunciation guide. And I dropped the “V” word. But I think before I get started talking about this book, I’ll tell you the history behind the book. Yes, I’m teasing you along.

Back a few (but not too many) moons ago, I was in college and taking creative writing classes. I don’t remember how or why, but I came up with an idea for a short story with vampires in it. The premise was this: a woman, stuck in a snowstorm in East Tennessee (it’s as good a place as any) in the dead of night, runs across a mysterious stranger, who takes her to a cave to shelter. It turns out he’s a vampire and there’s a whole cave system full of vampires. She spends a couple of days there, as if in some sort of bizarre dream, and the next thing she knows, it’s daylight, she’s standing beside her car, and the road has been cleared enough she can get out. And she’s left wondering whether any of what happened was real, and if it wasn’t, where has she been for the last two days? While the story itself didn’t have any funny parts in it, you were supposed to laugh when you got to the end of it to realize it’s an alien abduction story, only with vampires. I think being bitten on the neck is better than being anal probed, but you have to admit there are striking similarities.

That was Incarnation Number One. As I started to write this short story, and as is my habit—because I don’t much like writing or reading short stories—I got caught up in my characters and decided they needed an entire book. So I took that same opening and just kept writing until I had something approaching a novel-length story. And it didn’t work. I had some parts that I liked, and some characters I liked, but I wasn’t happy with the plot overall and I wasn’t happy with my main female character. I knew my main male character quite well, but I wanted her to be just as prominent—or more so—than him, but she had no personality and I didn’t know how to give her one. Also, their relationship just wasn’t working. They were in love pretty much because I said they should be; there was no believable development between them.

By the time I graduated college I was burned out on writing and rather angry at English majors in general (we will not discuss that bitter story in public) and, with the exception of spending some time during the Lord of the Rings movie craze experimenting with writing a language for my vampires, I pretty well dropped the book. I certainly didn’t touch it after 2002. That was Incarnation Number Two.

Then, November of last year, my friend Cassie puts on her Facebook status a link to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Intrigued, I clicked the link and started reading about the idea of writing 50,000 words in one month. The idea grew on me over the course of a few days. I had abandoned my book and I had stopped writing fiction, but I have been writing non-fiction in some capacity ever since then. In short, I continued to write—because I can’t not write—but I had changed my focus. NaNoWriMo made me seriously consider going back into fiction again. I mean, why not?

So I decided that I’d write some horribly cheesy romance novel. You know how they say every person has at least one novel in them? Well, for most people, it’s some sort of horrible romance novel. So I figured I could come up with some bodice ripper that I could have a good laugh at (and maybe even share it with friends—preferably when they were drunk—for an even better laugh) and then file it away. My job search had not been going well; I didn’t feel any direction in my life. I thought having a goal, even if it was just for fun, was better than no goal at all. Doing something, at that point, felt better than doing nothing at all.

And then, a few days before the competition got started, I had an inkling of an idea, and it involved some of the characters from my old book, and some of the old plot, but I was going to start it all over again. There would be no vestige of the old short story in there at all; this book was going to be a book from the very beginning. And you know what? I think that made all the difference the second time around. Not only did I complete my book this time, but I did it in less time than it took me to write the previous Incarnation, which was less than half as long.

And here I am again; going on two pages into my blog post and I still haven’t really talked about my book (aka Incarnation Three—the third time being the charm, of course). Am I going to make you wait one more day? I think maybe yes. But I’m not doing this so much to annoy you as to keep me going, you see. If I didn’t force myself to stop, I’d write everything at once in a massive post (which would be too long for anyone to read) and then the blog would fold because I’d have used up all my material in one fell swoop. Like 1001 Arabian Nights, I have to leave a little cliff-hanger going so you and I will come back tomorrow to see if we can find out how the story ends.

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