Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On Writing Fiction


This past spring, in a remarkable creative marathon, I finished writing the first draft of a novel. I had been working on the book for almost 5 years, off and on of course, sometimes going months without writing a single word. I started writing the story for the sheer fun of it, it was only after a fateful day when I hit the word count button and noticed I had 25,000 words that I thought "hmm, perhaps I've got a book forming here".

When I was younger, around 12/13 I loved writing fiction. I was a part of those online role playing forums (Harry Potter themed ones, of course!) back in the nerdy days of pre-tumblr internet and I loved creating characters and torturing them as much as possible. I wasn't very good at it, but oh how I adored planning out each downfall, writing stand alone scenes and entire chapters, loving every minute of it. Then came high school, and homework, and enough analytical essays that I felt the motivation to write creatively stamped right out of my soul. I didn't write fiction again until sophomore year of college. That's when the fun began again, that's when the novel hit 25,000 words out of nowhere.

Next I made a near fatal mistake, I started editing before I finished the first draft. Then I was caught in the spiral of editing, re-working and rewriting the first third of the book over and over again. It was only just this past spring when I finally got serious, forbade myself from editing, and managed to write out the end of the story. Well...the end of book 1 at least!


A circuitous route back to writing fiction again. For a long time I didn't tell anyone I had started writing a book, after all it sounds pretty cheesy and cliche to say "oh I'm writing a book". The notion brings up regrettable stereotypes, unfortunate fan fiction (hello 50 Shades of nope), Mary Sue fantasies, pretentious overwrought attempts at literature. I'd wager most first novels, especially ones written by 19 year old college girls (aka me at the time I began writing), are mocked for a reason. Then again some college girls write Divergent and turn out to be Veronica Roth awesome, so the outliers exist.

Which is all to say, I am often too embarrassed to call myself a writer, and that is unfortunate. I wrote a whole book, 120,000 words of fiction, and I should probably be proud of that. Is it really done? No not yet. I am back to editing of course, but the story is "on paper", the first draft exists. To be a writer is to have the fear, the fear that everything you write is actually, quite plainly, awful. The risk in writing is that instead of being an author, you are actually simply a dreamer. As one Redditer put it "Because unless you're published, 90 percent of people you meet will think you're kidding yourself". It's like telling someone you want to be a painter, the reaction is the same, they give you the "Oi, that's nice, good luck buddy, try a real job" face. Ouch. Sometimes it's easier to leave the writer bit out, easier to keep it to yourself. You can't fail if you don't try, or in this case, if no one ever knows you tried.

It's a bit odd, because I have no trouble claiming I am a seamstress even though I don't sew couture worthy garments. Why should I shun the tile of writer even if I can't write like best? Titles and labels have no real value, but by not claiming the title "writer" I do myself a disservice; I am a writer, it is something I do, I write!


And yet, I never really talk about it. I don't belong to any writers groups, or share my writing anywhere. I don't tell people my dream of being published. Because to admit I am a writer, is to open up the possibility that I am a bad writer, and that's scary.

I am working on a book. I really adore my characters and love racing along the streets of Victorian London with them. It is my greatest wish that someone else may love them too, may enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoy writing it. Dreamer, writer. I think I have always been both.

I went to school for fashion design, so believe me I am used to the look discussed earlier, the "wow, what are you going to do with that?" look. My roommates in college were engineering students, so meeting people while out with them was always fun, chemical engineering, civil engineering,...apparel design. The stigma of being just another girl who decided to major in shopping was quite annoying, never mind that I actually lived and breathed sewing and sketching. Dreamer. Dreamer.

So desiring a creative career isn't something new for me, but to call myself a writer is. So that's why I am writing this little journal today, to tell you all that, hey, by the way, I am also a writer. Maybe if I type it enough I could perhaps even evolve to say it out-loud.  Hopefully one day I can go from writer to author, it remains to been seen.

Do any of you have a hobby you wish was your day job? Any other writers out there?


12 comments:

  1. Great post. I write as well, though it has slowed down a lot over the last few years. I have a 140,000wd first draft on my laptop. I'm not sure what to do with it now. It has potential, but not in its current form. There is also a lot of world building involved in it (historical fiction). There is a lot more of this, including research I need to do, and now I'm not sure where the beginning of the series is, or if it is just too big. No matter what happens though I love having my own little world I have created; its been a constant for at least the last decade

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    1. It's definitely hard to go from the first draft onto something more. I am currently working out plot issues, strengthening character motivations, and in general trying to shape what I have into something more fun and thrilling to read. I know what you mean about historical research, I'm constantly pouring over old maps and trying desperately to find out the price of train tickets in 1886!

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  2. Ohh, exactly like my words. I have been writing a novel too. But I have kept it to myself. I've been writing stories ever since I was 7 years old and my teacher thought I'd become an author and encouraged me to it. But I don't think I will publish my stories, I just love writing and creating worlds and lifes.

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    1. Its nice to have a world to escape into, I can totally relate! I don't think I ever had a teacher encourage my writing, but that's probably because when I was younger (and also now...) I was naturally a terrible speller. Thank goodness for spell check!

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  3. I know that fear too well. I tell people that I want to be an author and am writing some books, but when they ask what it's about I freeze up and am horrified at the thought of telling them! I'm going to have it published some time (hopefully soon) and my Dad's building me a website to put them on. I'm even planning on narrating it to be an audio book sometime also, but I dread how it will be received by others, mainly because it has gay characters, but also because I'm scared it will be awful or pretentious or historically inaccurate or something!
    Thanks for sharing your feelings. I feel better knowing I can relate to somebody! I really hope I can read your book someday, and create a little Bianca Esposito collection on my kindle, as I'm sure it will be full of good things. :)

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    1. Oh the "oh really, what about?" is soooo terrifying! Especially because my book is about the most cliche topic of all (drumroll please), vampires. Oh the horror! I can never quite own up to it so I always tell people it is historical fiction, because it is, but also...vampires. The shame! I think it is awesome that your book includes gay characters, I mean life also contains gay characters so it is only natural that fiction would also. The world needs more diverse and inclusive writing!

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    2. I happen to really love vampires, especially Victorian vampires! You can't get any creepier or gothic-er than Victorian vampires. Vampires aren't too cliche, unless they're the Edward Cullen, Vampire Diaries, sparkly pretty-boy variety. :D

      And I hadn't thought of it like that! I was worried that because some hateful people dislike gay people with a passion, that I'd be the subject of that hate somehow. But on the other hand, they need to open their eyes and minds to the modern world and diverse writing, as you say. "If you don't like it, don't read it" should be plastered all over the things us newbie writers compose! XD
      Thanks for your encouragement. :)

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    3. I'm glad you too like a Victorian vampire, no more glittering please! :) I think it is actually quite safe these days including gay characters in fiction, especially young adult fiction as young people are usually more accepting in general thankfully. I know here in the US books do get banned by schools in more conservative states, but banning a book only gives it free publicity and that's not so bad!

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  4. You have written a book. You should most definitely call yourself a writer. It sounds very interesting, I hope you continue to enjoy it!

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  5. Deeply lovely, soulful post. You are a writer through and through, dear Bianca. You could have more than called yourself so already on the merits of your wonderful blog, but now that you've penned an entire book, it would be a disservice to yourself not to, my deeply talented friend.

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Thank you Jessica! I still catch typos in my blog posts all the time which makes me so mad! Thank goodness for the edit button :)

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