And speaking of Les Miserables, I have to be honest and say that my little novel is really not the literary gem that you might expect from an AP Literature teacher, in fact, it's much less Victor Hugo, and much more Hallmark Channel. It's one of those books that no one ever admits to reading - like a Harlequin Romance or a Nicholas Sparks book, but that everyone secretly enjoys. And that's the thing. I. love. it. Honestly, I just really love this story. It's lighthearted, people fall in love, and everyone lives happily ever after - and right now, it's at the top of my "favorite books I've ever read," list - but I'm probably a little biased.
Writing isn't easy (obviously - it's taken me 7 years to do it!) And believe me, I'm no expert. But here are a few things that I learned were especially difficult along the way.
1. Language: as in bad language...as in curse words. My personal vocabulary is pretty PG. We actually have a swear jar at our house, and Carson is very rigid about pointing out when someone needs to contribute. There are $5.00 words, which should really never be used, but sometimes slip out when Michigan loses to Ohio State in overtime, there are $1.00 words, which should really also not be used, but sometimes slip out when you slide along a slippery road and almost get hit by a semi (actually, if you want to go ahead and use a $5.00 word during that experience, you have full permission), and there are $.50 words that no one actually knows if they are swear words or not, for example:
Kaitlyn: I'm so pissed!
Carson: That's a dollar!
Kaitlyn: Pissed is not a swear word!
Me: I don't know - put $.50 in the jar
The problem with language in a novel is that I am not a character, and even though I rarely use $1.00 words, other people do - including some of my characters. But to be honest, I just can't picture most of the characters getting themselves into situations in which they would say, "Oh gosh, golly, jee!" So there are some $1.00 words in there...and maybe a $5.00 word...
2. Love Scenes: Ok, so there isn't really a full out love scene in the book, because to be honest, I just couldn't do it. I felt that I could definitely leave the heaving breasts for someone else to write about. But there is kissing. And writing about kissing is a weird thing. Like, do you describe whether or not it's open mouth or closed mouth? Do you talk about the awkward head tilt or the weird sounds that are made. Regardless, it is a love story, and I couldn't very well have the happy couple seal the deal with a fist bump. So I closed my eyes and barrelled through...similar to my first actual kiss I would say.
3. Relevance: When you take 7 years to write a book, you realize just how much things change. I was going back through one of my first chapters and realized that the character, "flipped open her phone." Flipped open her phone? Who is this person? A grandmother? No, actually she is just someone stuck in 2009. My character was also at one point wearing a velour track suit...enough said.
Now for the real question...and the answer is no, I'm not looking to publish it (it's not nearly as well-written as a Harlequin Romance!) my goal was really just to finish. And I'm so glad I did. Because while I may have only written at the incredibly ridiculous rate of only 31 words-a-day, in the words of my husband who is over-the-top supportive of this endeavor, that's 30 words-a-day more than most people in the world - and after 7 years, I've finally even written the two little words that matter the most:
Much love from your very own Small-Town Writer!