Reflections on Another Year in the Life of a Wannabe Writer

I worked hard this year. There’s no doubt about it. I read a lot. I wrote a lot. I networked and made new friends. I learned a lot about writing. I wrote my second novel – a novel that I truly believe might be The One. The One that might get me an agent and just might get me published.

When I wrote my first novel, it was almost like I was writing it at a distance. I think it turned out okay, but not fabulous. I’ve stopped sending that one out to agents. But this novel? This one was different. It feels different. I become much more emotionally attached to the characters, which was exhilarating and exhausting. Mostly, it was wonderful. I feel like found my “voice” when writing this novel. If my friends read the novel, they might say it sounds like something I wrote, but I hope they would also say it sounds like it was written by a cocky, twenty-something major league baseball player. It’s written in the first person, so that’s what it’s supposed sound like. For the most part, I think I succeeded. Henry Vaughn, Jr. and I shared a brain and heart for several months, and it was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve found that, for me, writing a novel was a much more intense experience than writing a screenplay.

Unfortunately, no one has read the novel, despite my requests. People have started it, but got “too busy” and didn’t finish it. Is that because the novel is no good? I hope not. I guess I’ll never know. My husband, who hasn’t read a book in the entire time I’ve known him (12 years), got about halfway through, but has stalled. I’ve given up that he will eventually finish it.

I know people are busy. They’ve got their own lives to lead. But these are my friends and my family. And it’s taking them longer to read the book than it took me to write it. That saddens me, but I have to let that go. I understand that completing this novel can never mean to other people what it means to me. Still, I wanted to share it with others, but nobody seems to have the time. I find this frustrating, because I know that if someone entrusted me with a work of art – something they produced from their heart – I would set aside time and have it read within a week or two. No matter how busy I was. 

This is my favorite thing that I’ve even written, and we’re talking about 16 + years of writing. It’s based on my favorite screenplay. Unfortunately, for now, it’s going to have to remain something that only makes sense to me. A bunch of lines, jokes, and songs that have “inside” meaning only to me, despite my efforts to share them with others.

The final step for completing this novel is for me to read it out loud. I’m kind of looking forward to that step. It will be just me and my guys, my characters, telling our story one last time before we release it out into the world in the form of query letters to agents. I really believe in this story in a way that I never have before and, since it’s in novel form instead of a screenplay, I believe this time I have an actual shot at success.

I wrote screenplays for 14 years (had two options with production companies out inL.A.and one script was a Finalist in a national contest. I actually got further with my scripts than I ever thought possible, especially considering I live on the East Coast). I’ve always known that the odds a publishing a novel, while still slim, are far, far greater than those of selling a screenplay, but I’ve put off writing novels all these years because I just didn’t think writing a novel would be the same for me. My passion is for screenwriting. Always has been. At the age of 19, when I first began screenwriting, I always feared that I really had very little chance of selling a screenplay both because I lived outside of L.A. and simply because the odds are just terrible. Still, I plugged away for many years, doing the work that I loved. Now, at the age of 36, I have begun to think that 19-year-old me was right all along. It truly is next to impossible to sell a screenplay.

So, not wanting to give up altogether, I wrote my first novel in 2009. I found that I liked novel writing.

In 2011, I wrote my second novel. And found that I LOVED novel writing. It was not just “as good” as screenwriting. It was better. I never, ever thought I could be as passionate about anything as I was about screenwriting. But I am. I love novel writing MORE.

As 2011 draws to a close, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may very well never write another screenplay again. This may not seem like a big deal, but this is 14 years of my life we’re talking about. It’s been a tough decision, but I’m finding that I am feeling an enormous sense of relief in it. I’m relieved at no longer having to try to keep up with what’s going on inHollywood, no longer worrying about how it’s nearly impossible to network with people while I’m on the other side of the country. I think I’ve always had a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that this could never really happen, the feeling that I’ve always known that selling a screenplay was nearly impossible.

Novel writing is different. It feels different. It feels like it really could happen. Maybe I won’t be a New York Times bestseller, but with enough perseverance and hard work, publishing a book is within the realm of possibility.

If I loved screenwriting more, I would stick with it, damn the odds. But I don’t. Novel writing seems more freeing, more “writerly” and less like a blueprint like scriptwriting was. It was more intense, more fun, more exhilarating. Like the difference between liking someone and loving someone. You don’t understand until you’ve felt both. Novel writing, where have you been all my life??

I’m excited about the future. I can’t wait to see what 2012 holds. Maybe I will get an agent. Maybe this will really happen. And if me and my characters have to face the future alone, then that’s what we’ll do. Maybe my future agent will be the first one to actually read the novel all the way through. Everybody else had their chance to get in on the ground floor.

Maybe people will have time to read my book if it’s on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.

Hey, it could happen!

Until then, it’s okay if it’s just me, Henry, Thomas, and Alice on this journey. We’ve made it this far together. Let’s see what the future holds for us.

 

Hopes for the New Year

Hopes for the New Year:

Sell my middle grade novel and win a Newberry award.

Sell a screenplay, which gets made into a movie starring Ryan Reynolds, with cameo appearances by Shia LaBeouf, Michael J. Fox, and Betty White.

Win the Academy award for Best Original Screenplay and have it presented by the winner for Best Actor from the same movie….Ryan Reynolds.

Have my blog become so successful that the advertising alone will pay for my mortgage and all my bills.

Okay, REALISTIC Hopes for the New Year:

Complete the novel version of my earlier screenplay, QUEEN HENRY.

Complete and CONQUER the comedy screenplay, MATRIMANIA, that’s kicking my ass at the moment.

To really get my blog going and meet some interesting Wannabe actors, writers, and other artists and learn about their journeys to success.

Try to go through the whole year without zeroing out my bank account.

 To all the Wannabes out there, may 2011 bring only rejections that make you stronger and enough successes to make it all worthwhile.