A summary of my novels (and how it’s all sorta worked out)

(Whew! That was a long post and I have terrible keyboard connection so this post isn’t quite as polished as it could be but I’m going to publish it anyway because it’s getting late and I still have a novel to write. If you’d like to know more about one of my stories, do leave a comment! I’m planning on writing separate posts for the more prominent of my stories.)  

It’s true, I haven’t always had a great relationship with writing. Yes, I have despaired more than a few times over a story. I’ve given up on writing as a serious hobby. I’ve abandoned my blogs and abandoned waaaaay too many manuscripts. I’ve started too many blogs, to abandon them and eventually start another, repeating the process. I’ve gone on long hiatuses from publishing any writing, had a moment of inspiration, then disappeared from the writing world again. 

But in the end, I would say it’s been pretty good. Yesterday, I decided to calculate the number of finished manuscripts I’ve written over my whole life and the number of unfinished novels, out of curiosity and so I can announce to strangers exactly how many novels I’ve written when they ask me about my hobbies. It turns out I’ve written –

3 Completed Full Length Novels

-Ten Teens (November 2013) ~50,000 [My sisters drew 10 different characters and I managed to shoehorn all of them into the narrative. It was my first attempt at Nano and I handwrote the entire manuscript too. I also let my brother read it as I wrote. When you think about it, this novel was actually kind of amazing in terms of the writing journey I went through to complete it.]

– Bloody Daggers (July 2015) ~51,000 [This was for Camp Nano and is one of the many evolutions of my fantasy story. This one is very different from the current evolution of that story so I think it’s more fitting to consider it an entirely different novel now. …In future,  as this is the first completed novel I still have a copy of, I can use this as an example of my early writing.]

– Happy Medium (July 2015) ~42,000 [This is another Camp novel – yay for Camp nano! It’s too short for a novel but I’ll definitely bulk it up in edits. I’m actually really proud of this novel. For a first draft, I think it’s kind of decent. A girl tries to matchmake all the students in her class but they end up pairing up very differently … The novel evolved into quite a wider story and the matchmaking part ended up being quite small, though.]

4 Completed Novellas 

– Life on a Mannarerr Farm, Four Years (~2009?) ~20,000? [These were two “novels” (well, I thought they were novels) about a family living on a farm in nineteenth century America. I was really interested in American history during the time so that accounts for the time period (and I was inspired by Little Women). I was about 11 when I wrote these and I’m no child prodigy … but these were my first successful novel attempts and started me off writing seriously so I won’t hate on them too much. 

– Mackenzie (early 2013)  ~10,000 [I’m not sure what inspired me to write this story … it’s about a girl in Canada whose mother dies. She fends for herself and her little sister until a woman finds them and adopts them.]

– Loche’s Adventure (April, 2014) ~20,000 [This was one of the earlier evolutions of my fantasy story. It involved portal travel, war, magic, and basically way too much for 20,000 words. What I wrote is a bit more like a very lengthly plot summary …]

16+ Unfinished Novels (in approximate order of the dates they were written)

– Connelle (A handicapped girl wants to become a swimmer and compete in the Olympics.)

– Peace on the Horizon (Set during the Spanish Civil War, a young man is afraid of fighting in the war while his cousin is a communist spy and his friend adopts a Russian refugee and attempts to make her a violinist. As weird as it sounds, I actually think it has potential with proper research.)

– Magnus fantasy story … (This was the earliest version of the fantasy story, and centered around a boy named Magnus who was groomed to be a murderer and a brutal king who would slaughter a race of magical humans, making them almost extinct, and start a war.)

– Stephen Farrar (A man brings life and faith to a town of deadbeats and backstabbers.  On hindsight, that novel was so preachy it’s cringeworthy. It also involved a forced romance. The only saving grace was the twins Leslie and Lillian, who I’m determined to work into some other novel one day.)

– Iris Texier (Basically a ripoff of Emily of New Moon …)

– Button City (After his parents’ deaths and the inheritance of a large fortune, Cyrus White leaves his home and job as a lawyer to find meaning in life. He stumbles upon the strangest city ever. I do want to write this novel.)

– Eleazar’s story (It’s about a man who commits a murder during an armed robbery  and struggles to put his life back together after that. He comes to fall in love with a girl, Lucy, but obviously he feels he can’t pollute her life with his presence. I LOVE the character of Eleazar and I love his bromance with a homeless guy, Mick, and how he befriends Lucy’s siblings and becomes like a father to them.) 

– Sibling saga (It’s about the lives of five different siblings from an extremely dysfunctional family. I only got around to writing the first part about the oldest sibling but I’ve transported many of the characters into my dystopian story since this novel was kind of lacking a plot.)

– Winteria (This fantasy story began as a story for a blogging tag. I ended up rather liking my character of the Summer Prince and decided the story had potential as a novel. While most of my stories are more suited to a teen or adult audience, this novel is more MG.)

– Dystopian story (It focuses on the forming of a dystopian society and how the people who helped make the government happen react once the dystopian government comes into power. It features characters from my sibling saga and Ten Teens.]

-Irish mythology fantasy (It’s basically  a fantasy inspired by Irish mythology. I tried to incorporate a curse, portal travel, and  other  strange elements but it didn’t quite work out … I  settled  on something simpler, with vampires, fae, mermaids, and giants. It still was simply too overwhelming a world and story that I abandoned it.)

– Grey Wars (The next evolution of The Fantasy Story … The various drafts mixed and matched together would probably amount to a full novel but I never could make it to the finishline due to the enormous plotholes.)

– World Warriors (A shapeshifter kidnaps a bunch of teens to help him save the world. I honestly love this story and it’s a blast to write. I gave it up because I had no idea the logistics of how they would actually save the world. I’d love to rewrite it, though. I think I’ll make the teens transform into superheroes … probably because that would solve the question of how to save the world and because I’m more than a little obsessed with Marvel superheroes at the moment …)

– I Crashed My Friends (A teenager kills his friends in a car crash and suffers from the guilt and reconciling with his friends’ parents.)

– Alex + Brittany (I decided to try my hand at a romance – the result? Mixed. It definitely needed more conflict and more of a plot, but I don’t think it was TOO bad.)

– Stranger Boyfriend (After Michelle breaks up with her boyfriend,  she decides to console herself by finding another guy for revenge. She picks up a random guy at a bar and … chaos ensues.)

****

So basically … yeah, I have too many unfinished manuscripts. Sometimes that was due to plot holes and weak premises but mostly I was just too lazy to keep on writing. But it’s not a terrible track record.  After all, somehow I managed to finish three novels! Not everybody can do that nor does everybody have the craziness to attempt it. Yes, chances are in a few weeks from now, I’ll be writing a post about how as much as I love it, I don’t love writing enough to keep it up consistently …

I guess I just want to make a tribute to writing and my writing journey. I don’t always enjoy writing, it’s true … but somehow I keep coming back to it. 

Some thoughts:

– While I could have been more prolific, I’ve come a long way since the beginning. Over the years and observing the differences in my stories, you can also see how different I was in various stages of my life. 

-Whenever I complete some piece of writing, or reread a completed story, there’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

-I have so MANY different story ideas. It’s awesome and kind of overwhelming and makes me wish I was immortal so I can write all these stories and more. 

-Ah writing …writing has always been there for me. It’s comforted me when I was upset and helped me to sort out my thoughts when I was confused. It’s freed me when I felt trapped, and enabled me to live a hundred lives in one. Life would have been infinitely sadder without writing and I am incredibly grateful that writing exists, that I discovered writing, and that I was given the opportunity to create stories and record them. I’m proud of my writing journey so far and I’m extrememly excited for what lies ahead, as cliched an ending as that is! 

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It All Went Uphill

I was eleven when I sat down to pen my first novel, and it all went uphill from there.

I thought they made novels – those fat, crooked letters, pencilled onto the pages of a stack of exercise books. I wrote them painstakingly, correcting all the grammatical errors my pre-high-school brain could catch. I divided them into chapters. 

I must have written four or five. They dealt with a wide array of themes, and had such a variation of settings and genres. There was the one about a farm girl in nineteenth century America, and her growing pains. Another chronicled the life of a handicapped girl who became an Olympic swimmer (and got a mischievous, but really sweet boyfriend along the way). There was even one on the Spanish Civil War, complete with a title – “Peace on the Horizon” – about a terrified soldier, his cousin who was actually a Communist spy, and a thwarted violinist who tried to live his dreams vicariously through his adopted daughter.

I would later realise these were actually short stories, with ten … at most twenty … thousand words, but that was the beginning of my writing plans. 

I didn’t just stick with prose. There was poetry … so much poetry. I dreamt of publishing my poems in an anthology. I wrote scripts and imagined becoming a scriptwriter for a big Hollywood production. I wrote countless blogs, always starting a new one when I deemed the old one too “immature”. I wrote about true beauty, euthanasia, and how the “world was my classroom”. 

Then there was that time I was taken by an evangelical zeal and took it as my mission to convert as many people as possible. I began proselytising in my own blog and in comments on other people’s blogs.

You couldn’t accuse me of being lacklustre. 

I was fifteen when I started seriously working to improve my writing. I read blogs on the writing craft. I learned effective structure, the importance of “showing” rather than “telling”, the trick to writing sympathetic characters, and how to avoid “head hopping”. I researched the publishing business, down to reading sample query letters and looking up literary agents. 

And I wrote … most of them terrible novels, but I wrote anyway. I plotted extensively, with methods like the “snowflake” and “character resumes”. I even made up my own language for a fantasy series! 

With serious writing came other duties, like shaping an author brand and maintaining a presence in the blogosphere. I stepped into the world of beta readers and critique partners and writing workshops. 

I briefly considered getting a degree in creative writing, but I knew it would be hard to support myself with fiction alone. But that was okay, I told myself. I could become a journalist or a teacher of English or creative writing. I found writing research papers quite fascinating. A living at a university, I thought, immersed in thesis projects, would not be a bad way to live. Finding a lack of free, reliable, and detailed online papers on New Zealand issues, this seemed especially fitting as my future pathway – my destiny. 

Writing was my life. So you can imagine what a complete loss I was at when, come my junior year at high school, I was hit by an identity crisis. 

I’ve had creative ruts before, and those “I’m a horrible writer who will only ever write garbage” moments, but this was different. 

This time, I lost my ambition.

People call this the “teenage identity crisis”. I guess I reached teenagerdom a little later than most? Be it as it may, all I wanted to do was listen to music and watch hilarious YouTube videos. And if I did do something more productive, what was to say it should be writing? Even when people complimented me on my writing skills, I had this niggling feeling in me that said I shouldn’t limit myself. Maybe there was more to life, outside the writing world. 

What about sports? Music? Science? Art? Fashion? Cooking? Computer programming? 

Why not? The world was my oyster!

Well, I can safely say now that I do love to write. Honestly, the thought of never writing again in my life kind of scares me. Writing helps me to sort out my thoughts. It’s my ultimate way of communication. And it’s an adventure. There is such a world out there that you could never get to explore other than through the imagination. And writing is therapeutic. The mere act of typing or handwriting words – any words – feels good. 

Yes, I have gotten some of my writing prowess back. But … I haven’t tried a novel yet. I just don’t have the willpower. And I’ve certainly left off thoughts of publishing. 

And you know what? That’s okay.

I’ve come to realise sometimes the best writing is for leisure – short and simple and spontaneous, like a passage in a diary, or a silly poem, or a love letter buried deep in a drawer where no one will ever see it, but … well … you just had to get it out of your heart. 

So, here’s my message to all committed writers out there: hats off to you! You are amazing and I know firsthand how much effort and ambition and willpower it takes to be you. But I don’t know if I can count myself amongst your ranks and I don’t know if I want to. Right now, I’m happy where I am. 

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be writing – and just maybe … in some future time … in some future life … I will write some of those research papers.