You can only have one first and Lucinda at the Window was mine. It was the first novel I wrote, and on the 20th of September, it will be the first to reach publication. All this week, I plan to present a process log detailing the writing of Lucinda at the Window, its path to publication, and how my first has influenced me as a writer.
In December of 1997, I graduated from the University of Nebraska with a BA in English. I had taken many of the composition and writing classes available at UNL and had otherwise used the literature classes into investigate the history and form of written literature. I had written short stories good enough to be published in literary magazines and poetry bad enough for niche magazines. But a novel-length work was elusive. I had learned the basic theory of "plot," but extending that into something more than 12,000 words wasn’t…reachable for me. I figured I’d get there; maybe on my own, maybe in grad school. What I knew was this: I had to keep writing. What I feared, freshly out of college and with at least a nine month lapse between undergrad and grad school, was that I wouldn’t continue. I am very lazy by nature, even when it comes to things I love. How would I manage to keep writing in the interim?
My solution was the new man in my life. I had met Eric in October. We were dating and he had shown interest in me as a writer. First, I had him read the project I had done for my autobiographical fiction class. Thankfully, he was still willing to read more of my work after that. I tasked him with keeping me honest. He decided to require a certain number of pages a week from me. I started out writing character sketches. During the third week of January (or thereabouts), I decided I wanted to do an atmosphere piece. Something a little spooky. With a Monday deadline looming, I sat down at my mother’s computer (I was visiting Omaha that weekend) and wrote a three pages of "atmosphere."
The page at right is not one of the originals. It’s probably not even one of the pages I transcribed into my MS Word incompatible Brother word processor, but it is print out from that machine. Considering there is no header or page numbers, I can date it to the very early days. Click through to enlarge.
[Tomorrow: What’s Next?]
*All of my manuscripts have a box (or in Lucinda’s case boxes) where workshopped versions and printouts are kept. In one of Lucinda’s boxes were pages extracted from a book: "Getting your novel started in 10 days."