The winning category for this week is a poem or song, so hang on: there is one coming your way. However, first I wanted to address the fact that today is the four year anniversary of the day I began writing my second novel, Forgotten, my freshman year of high school. Forgotten ended up being a huge milestone for me, and November 21st always ends up feeling sort of magical–like anything can and will happen.
[Quick: listen to this while reading this post.]
A few of the many ways my life changed because of Forgotten:
- I began doing NaNoWriMo. I knew about National Novel Writing Month before 2008, but I had never really had interest in doing it, because it sounded absolutely daunting and impossible. I wasn’t even planning on doing it when I began writing Forgotten the evening of Friday, November 21st. However, when it became apparent a few days into the novel that I was writing so quickly I could easily get ten or fifteen thousand words done before the end of the month, I decided to join the Young Writers Program, and set my goal for the impossible amount of 25,000 words. I wrote my tail off all throughout Thanksgiving break, and sure enough–by December 1st, I had made it to 25k. And I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo ever since, with the full 50k both last year and this year.
- I began writing spy stuff. I’m a major spy geek. I got to spend a day at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. a couple summers ago, and my parents literally had to drag me back out at closing. Before I began Forgotten, though–which is a young adult spy novel, by the way–I had never so much as seen a James Bond movie, let alone shown an interest in spies. It was while researching for Forgotten that I absolutely fell in love with espionage, which has influenced a majority of my writing ever since then, and even a few of the classes I took in high school (the math class I took first semester of senior year dealt with encryption; coolest thing ever).
- I began trying to get published. Although I’m no longer really working on Forgotten–four years and countless revisions, queries, and rejections later, I can’t even imagine working on the project anymore–it’s still the novel that got me learning about the publishing industry. Because of Forgotten, I sent out my first query letters, attended my first writing conferences, and had my first experiences with the highs of full manuscript requests and lows of getting rejected off of those. Forgotten was basically my first bicycle–I learned how to ride it, and slowly I took off my training wheels with it. And now, even though I’ve grown out of it and needed to buy a new bicycle, I still owe the fact that I can ride that bicycle to it. (That was a really awful metaphor. I’m sorry.)
- I’m a creative writing major. During high school, my parents expressed doubts about me studying creative writing, apparently. I say “apparently” because I honestly don’t even remember this, but I was being nostalgic and looking through some old Facebook stuff from a few years back, and I found a discussion in which I talked about how I felt pressured to publish a novel in high school because my parents wanted me to go to college to become an English teacher if I didn’t prove that I could be successful as a writer beforehand–Well, apparently through all my querying and conferencing, I proved myself, because here I am as a creative writing major, four years later.
Forgotten was a first for a lot of things for me. It took me out of my realistic fiction comfort zone, which I had been struggling in before, and exposed me to a whole other world of writing that I fit into much better. Working on it was my strength through the deaths of my grandparents freshman year, and so much more afterward. It was my best friend when I felt alone, and a place to express myself when no one else wanted to listen.
And even though I’m no longer actively trying to publish it, it will always remain the first novel I did try to publish, and that’s special to me.
Now, in honor of the four year anniversary of me beginning Forgotten, here’s a short little lullaby I wrote ages and ages ago for the novel. Happy Wordy Wednesday.
My beautiful sunshine, you dance in the rain.
The world burns around you, but you feel no pain…
My beautiful sunshine, you burn in the night.
When the candle goes out, you are the light…
My beautiful sunshine, you are a dove.
Fly from these hardships, find strength up above…
Happy Thanksgiving, and I will talk to you next week!