A Brief Timeline of My Novel's Existence - Writer's Digest

A Brief Timeline of My Novel's Existence

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History has shown that periodicals like to ask authors, "how long did it take you to write this book?" and the answers are startlingly different, ranging from "twenty two years" to "two consecutive taxi rides." Preempting the obvious fact that someone somewhere is going to want to profile me very soon and going to need this information for filler when the body starts to lag, here's a little timeline breaking down the birth of my novel, from conception to, you know, whatever happens after that:

May 2003: During a moderately alcohol-influenced deep conversation with an English Major Senior Week of college realize that I should write a book about "like, college, but obviously deeper than that." Tell her that. Seriously.

July 2003: Said English Major calls me from Columbia Publishing School, or whatever it's called, and I reiterate my need to write a novel. "My life goal," I may have called it. "So... I'm thinking the main character's dad has to die because that makes it deeper, right?" I ask. "You know the sadness and what not?" EM doesn't answer me directly.

September 2003: Bored with my grad school homework, start writing down some crazy introduction in second person, and randomly creating a fictional college. Name it after my favorite college basketball player that never did anything post college, Chris Kingsbury. Write sixty-ish pages in three days. Feel triumphantly productive. Don't touch the book again for almost exactly two years.

September 2005: MFA program starts. Take Writing the First Novel class. Homework is to... write. the. first. novel. Start haphazardly "mapping" my book.

October 2005: Realize that I'm embarrassed by that convo I had in July 2003. Finally.

December 2005: Have produced another 60ish pages, 13 of which are coherent. Tire of critiques that begin, "It's funny but the characters never really do anything..." Bitch about my "art" at the grad school pub with a bi-sexual short story writer from Montana who has never ridden a subway or heard of Cosi. Find both of these things extremely satisfying.

May 2006: Another 50 pages written, probably 8 of which are salvageable, giving me 21 solid pages of work. Am writing through the "dreaded middle lull"... barely can look at the book each day. Doesn't help that my social life is in chaos, and I live by myself in what could honestly be deemed a retirement home in South Boston. Throw myself an infinite number of pity parties, and get really into watching seasons of The West Wing. Cry when Rob Lowe leaves.

August 2006: Write 30 pages on my own at my father's house in SoCal. Actually pretty good stuff. SoCal makes everything better. Plus, I don't have to pay for my meals.

December 2006: Tell people that I have a full draft written when, in fact, I have 150 pages, 30% of which is strictly filler. Get the "Jack Black 3 Pack" DVD set in my stocking.

January-April 2007: Take a leave of absence from school, and travel around Eastern Europe with the Big Cat. Eat guac in Slovakia, see infinity cats in Istanbul, and "Czech Me Out" tees in Prague. Buy a dream journal. Write an extensive short story. Actually start editing the novel on long train rides when the Big Cat abruptly puts in his headphones while I'm telling a story.

May-July 2007: Spend all my time telling everyone how "they can't understand the complexities of life until they've been to Slovakia." No time for writing!

August 2007: Go out to SoCal again, on a mission from Twain, and have the writing week of my life, banging out 90 odd solid to good pages of work, am completely fired up for the semester, plan on finishing the book by October and strictly re-writing during my final semester.

October 2007: Hmmmm. Yeah, um, that was a little optimistic.

December 2007: Finish the semester with 40 odd pages written. Can see the finish line but refuse to walk across it, probably because I faked straining my writing hamstring. Get Friday Night Lights in my stocking.

April 2008: Oh man! Remember my Thesis freak out? (shudder) Literally writing non-stop revisions and 2000 word daily overhauls for a month straight... subsisting on a diet based almost-exclusively of Honey Bunches of Oats, which I haven't eaten since.

May 2008: Thesis defense. Novel (kind of) finished! All I need are about two solid weeks to revise and then it's off to my agent and certain literary fame. Plus, my dad knows the dude who wrote Two and a Half Men, and he can definitely get me a movie deal-- damn straight-- he knows Charlie Sheen!

Late May 2008: Get a job.

November 2008: All I need are about two solid weeks to... (sigh).

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Kanye West


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