Although the Cate series will be my first published work, it’s not my first attempt at writing. It’s not even my first attempt at novel writing.

In 2011, after losing my position (at a school I loved) because of budget cuts, I put all of my frustrated creative energy into writing my first formal novel (I say formal, because the writing I had done in the past was mostly bits and pieces, ideas that were never fully realized, shorter works that never saw the light of day). To motivate me to actually complete something this time, I signed up to join the official NaNoWriMo challenge. NaNoWriMo (taken from National Novel Writing Month) is a nonprofit that started in 1999, and has been helping people become better writers ever since. Among the many services and resources they provide is the opportunity to challenge yourself to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The official challenge takes place in November, but there are activities and projects available year round. As long you define your novel on the site, and post your updated word count by the end of the month, you win! There aren’t really prizes, but they have a number of sponsors who offer freebies, coupons, and discounts while you work on your writing.

The year I did it, Literature and Latte was providing a 30-day trial of their writing software, Scrivener, with a discounted price if you wanted to purchase it at the end of the month. I did. It was awesome. It looks like their deal is even better this year.

Anyway, that year I was really interested in psychological thrillers, specifically, in stories where the line between the real and unreal became blurred. I had just taught Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I got a little obsessed with Bottom and Titania, and this bizarre magical dream relationship they had while they were under Oberon’s spell. I built my novel around a character who was prone to lucid dreams. She had these very realistic, but but very weird, often morbid, hallucinations while she was otherwise awake. Much the way Cate is influenced by, but not based on, Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew, my first completed novel was influenced by Midsummer. I named the main character Cassie (Cassandra), taking my cue from Greek Mythology like Shakespeare’s Hippolyta and Theseus. I could not tell you how it ends.

There was a lot of repetition, which I swore to myself was purposeful and thematic, but probably really had more to do with the approaching deadline and low word count. The completed manuscript has 53,882 words, but I labeled it as 50,215, so I think guilt eventually got the best of me, and I discounted the repeated dream sequences.

It’s been ten years, and I might just be ready to reread it and see if there’s anything there. It’s called More Strange Than True, and it follows a stage manager whose theatrical dreams might be the end of her real life.

But first I need to bring the funny. Because balance is important.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: