Saturday, March 7, 2015

Writing Fiction Again

I think it was shortly after I started this blog that I started thinking about writing fiction again. I've written in journals since I was ten years old, but from the ages of about nine to fourteen I wrote six fictional stories, handwritten, ranging anywhere from about 100 pages to over 400 pages. Even though having my own book in print has always been a goal of mine, it was never really with nonfiction, as was the case with Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas.

Even though I guess I could revisit one of the six I already wrote for some major revisions those stories seem very distant to me now almost twenty years later. The one I started brainstorming on around two years ago now is the first fictional story ROUGH draft I've had in almost twenty years.   I have about two chapters to go, and it's looking to finish up somewhere between 125-150 pages, which is probably close to 200 in paperback, with  probably around 50,000 words.  Seeing this one in print will be the one that really makes me feel like I reached the goal of that little ten year old girl that use to put her imagination to work on the notebook pages of those spiral notebooks so long ago.

Writing, in some ways is kind of like teaching, you don't do it for the money. Fortunately you can make a living off of teaching, which is good enough for me. The disappointing thing to me is when people think writer they associate it with fame and way more money than the majority of writers ever make. There are definitely the highly successful celebrity writers like Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, and the author's of the classics, but people write for other reasons than the hope of becoming the next classic or Sparks. Writing is about so much more than the $$ sign in front of the numbers; it's about the story you have to tell connecting with someone. To me as a writer, no amount of money could give me the same level of contentment or feeling of success with my writing than when a reader tells me something I wrote really connected or touched them. Because to me that's what writing is about; it's about us as people sharing this crazy journey called life. With the two book publications (Chicken Soup as the first) and the hundreds of articles I've written for my site and others,  I've received well over a thousand emails, PM messages, comments on my blog, or comments on my posts on social media from readers over the past two years.  Not all of them by any means, but a good number of them go on to tell me how something I wrote really touched them or meant something to them. That response; that moment where I said something that really connected with them is worth more than the money I'll ever make. I'm pretty sure I'll get way more of those moments than I will dollars anyway. To me that's what this writing will always be about.

So what have I been brainstorming and writing about behind the scenes of this blog for the last two years? The story is inspired by my experience working in a very diverse school outside of Baltimore, Maryland. I taught students of all different languages, religions, races, and economic backgrounds. As a small town Midwest girl I came from one type of America and then moved East and found myself in a completely different America. As I sat almost in a way on the sidelines listening and watching things from the outside looking in, I started to see the internal struggle that is today's America. There are two different perceptions of what America is and those two worlds come crashing together in my titleless work with the modern day Romeo and Juliet story of Isabella Reyes and Jake Collins.

The grandson of a well known and respected Senator, Jake Collins, had always lived the ideal life as the scholar athlete and golden son that did as was expected of him. As Jake enters his senior year, excited for the year but anxious to be free of his parents’ control and constant expectations for a future career he doesn't want, he never expected to meet someone like Isabelle, that would open his eyes to the ugliness of discrimination, the strength it takes to fight for everything you ever wanted, and to the greed and selfishness in his own family's perceptions of the world.

Bella and her sister left their dying father to die alone at his pleading to not sacrifice everything he had done to bring them to America in hopes of an education and better life than the one they left behind on the drug lord run streets of Mexico. Heartbroken and tired of the constant rejection from mainstream society, Bella's idealism towards her father's dream hardened, she only holds contempt for people like Jake Collins, who had the world of opportunity at his feet.

They both find themselves trapped and misunderstood by society's labels that permanently mark them. Her as the immigrant girl, him as the wealthy Senator's grandson. Yet despite her resistance to believe in the good of people, Jake shows her they are all more than the labels society places on them. Together they are drawn into the movement for the upcoming legislative act, the DREAM Act, that would open doors to children and young adults like Isabella. But as the movement gains momentum and Jake gains media attention for publically supporting the bill his grandfather hopes to reject, they both find themselves at a crossroad to choose to be what is expected of them or shed the restraints society places on them to be the person they want to be regardless of what society and others expect of them. As they fight for themselves and the hope of opportunity that America always promised to stand for, the fight to be true to themselves and their beliefs will have to come at the price of their love for each other.

So there you have it. My writing secret out of the closest. I saw this post recently that said something about how telling people you're a writer or wannabe writer, which is probably my case, is kind of like telling people you're gay. They run away, unsure now how to react or treat you. When you're a little kid people will rave and encourage the child that loves to write, draw, sing, do any of those artsy things. But as you get older those things start to be seen as childish and unrealistic dreams. I really think we make the mistake of associating dreams like that with money and fame. A person can still write without being Stephen King, a person can draw or paint without being Leonardo, a person can sing without being the next Taylor Swift. All these arts are about passion, not fame and fortune. For those of you that encourage me to just be my own writer, I can't thank you enough. I would love your honest feedback on this. As a writer I know part of the deal is criticism and rejection, but as I am moving towards the revision process criticism right now is actually very valuable to the process.

I am also looking for readers. People that will just read it and give me straight feedback on what they liked and didn't like about the book. I'm also looking for editors so if any of my English degree peers are interested in being a part of this project please email me.



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