At age twelve, I came to a momentous decision: using the pulpy teen horror novels of my (then) favorite authors Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine as a guide, I set out to write the Great American Novel. The story was epic–epic, I tell you! My perfectly coiffed, teenage heroine, blessed/cursed with the gift of psychic abilities, was destined to uncover the secrets of a gruesome, centuries old massacre.
Unfortunately around page eighteen, I started noticing my obsession with the heroines’ sumptuous bedroom, not to mention the general crappiness of my prose and soon realized the plot wasn’t enough to hold even my attention. Those nine scribble-filled sheets were mercilessly torn from my notebook, crumpled, and thrown in the trash, along with any hope I ever had of becoming a novelist.
I’m not the plucky lead of a Drew Barrymore flick resolutely shaking off the dust of my first disappointment as a writer, aiming for and reaching even higher goals. Instead I’ve spent the past seventeen and a half years (alternately) dreading/shunning composing pieces longer than a few thousand words. Or I was, rather, until a few weeks ago when discussing a dark aspect of my family’s history with my therapist…
Immediately “writerly” questions began popping up in my head: Why did she do that? How did the family deal with the aftermath? Suppose something like this took place in a smaller community, where everyone knew each other’s secrets? What would have happened if… That’s when I started to worry.
This could be a novel.
I need answers to these questions, so I’m starting down a path I swore off years ago and will attempt to find the answers by writing this story. Things may peter out at a dead end, the characters may lie flat as corpses on the page, and if I actually manage to finish a manuscript, I’m certain it will never see the light of day; but there’s must be enough fodder to reach page nineteen and that’s further I got last time.
Thanks Catherine James!