Archive for novels

My Art

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , on April 10, 2010 by Sara Lilly

“I feel I understand
Existence, or at least a minute part
Of my existence, only through my art…”

From Canto 4 of Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

I have wanted to be a writer since I could read books on  my own. My mother used to take me to the library regularly. I once asked her after I finished reading Big Max by Kin Platt, if I could write a book too. She did a little shrug and went, “Yeah, sure,” as if it were a silly endeavor that would occupy me for just that evening.

My dad had given my sister a very old laptop that was good for just writing and playing a couple computer games.

I sat at her desk and I wrote. My first stories were total rip offs of the Big Max books. They followed the same plot except for a name change here and there.

I grew a little bit, and then I created a detective all of my own imagination with completely original story lines. By

middle school, I had become obsessed with boys and ohlala, dating, (like any other wanna-be-18 thirteen-year-old) as if I had any real idea of what it all was and wrote trashy YA. High-school started this story about a fictional dystopic society.  I had little accomplishments along the way too. In eighth  grade, I won an essay contest and 100 dollars. It was my parents’ pride for the year. Sophomore year, I had a very melodramatic story published in a Baha’i magazine that was dumbed down and accompanied by awful illustrations. I didn’t have any major projects that encompassed my mind, but by the end of my junior year, my Honors English teacher handed out an assignment.

It was a creative portfolio. We had to submit a collection of different things: a poem centered on symbol, a modern day Canterbury tales, a sonnet, a satirical poem, and a short story centered on a symbol. I had the poetry down, which shocked me because all my life I had never really written poems. I was a prose writer. But I was at a loss for the story part. It was the night before the collection was due. I sat in the den of my house, and I swear I forcefully regurgitated this story out of nowhere about two brothers going to see their aunt in rural USA after the death of their mother. They road in a dilapidating old blue truck. It focused on the narrative of the older brother, who wondered and thought often of his absent father. I had four pages written, and it could only be five so I bullshitted this terrible ending. A good friend of mine who sat behind me in class, read it. He told me he loved the beginning and hated the end. I had predicted that kind of answer. He suggested I submit that story, (I didn’t have much of a choice) but make it a long novel.

Sometime in December of my senior year (the project was due in May 2007) I sat in my sex ed class and just–wrote. I drafted and drafted, changed things around, but never got a push that made anything go anywhere. That summer, I read two lovely novels: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges and Empire Falls by Richard Russo. The former influenced me far heavier than the latter, but they both provided the artistic fuel that propelled my book to its first full draft. I was eighteen. It was October of my first semester of freshman year in college. It was about 50G words. I wrote another full draft over winter break that stretched maybe 55 G. By mid-June, came number 3. It was 60 G. The summer following, I just wrote shit. I don’t mean shit to be something bad, just shit. Stuff. I have an entire word document consisting of 55,525 words of stuff. February 2010 came take four. Two months later, I’m at 32 G.

It was called something else the first 3 drafts, but I think I’m calling it Fast Car now, with all respects to Tracy Chapman.

Why the hell do I write so much? It’s more than just liking it–I couldn’t live if I didn’t write. It’s therapeutic. I find more of myself everyday. It’s heavenly. I can’t even describe it. I just do it. It’s me.