Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Little Idea That Wouldn’t Die: Part Six

The comic book thing died in about 2007. I was out of money, between jobs, and generally depressed about my lack of success. As I wrote before, I did some math and realized that it would be fifty-some-odd years before I was done telling my story at my present pace. Cut that in half and it’s still a lot of time. While time didn't seem like an issue in my younger days, it now seemed very pressing indeed. Life was about to teach me another hard lesson.

In November of 2007, my father died of cancer. He had been diagnosed years before and had been through his treatments and remissions; now his time was running out and we all knew it, though none of us wanted to face it. As his health deteriorated I started thinking of my own mortality and the things I might leave undone. I realized that the comic book idea was too much to handle, but I wanted to tell my story. I hated the idea of letting go of my dream; I hated it even more that my parents had never liked the career path I’d chosen and they might have been right to be concerned. There is nothing worse than admitting your parents were right.

Anyway, I remember sitting in the hospital waiting room during a visit when it hit me. Novel writing. I could write novels! Could I write novels? Sure I could. How hard could it be? I began working on a story of the ancient history of my comic book world and events that would lead to the present storyline, kind of like The Silmarillion is to Lord of the Rings. It involved the first children of the gods (elves) and the introduction of the new children (humans) and how everything got knackered after that. I got the chance to use the elven language I’d made, writing in a formal and almost biblical style that seemed to suit the subject matter. It was kind of dry and detail-oriented and not very accessible. I shelved it after four chapters but managed to learn a bit about writing.

I think I was just beginning my first Cindra Corrina novel when dad died. It soon became a form of therapy to keep my mind occupied during that period, getting out of the house and writing in the bookstore’s café. In a few months I had written further in the story than I had drawn in several years. Remember what I said about doing your best work when in the midst of personal tragedy? That’s the curse. Well, I don’t know if it was my best work but there sure was a lot of it and it came pouring out in a way I didn’t know was possible. It took nearly a year but I soon had a completed novel.

Now what do I do? I thought. Here’s a hint: I should have thought of that before I started. Like most things I tend to leap in and learn along the way, but that’s not always (ever) the best idea. I knew my target audience was young, like maybe early teens, but I knew nothing about the Young Adult market. I knew I needed to find an agent, but what do they look for in a manuscript?

Maybe I should have done a little research.

More later....

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