The Why & How of Writing a Novel (Part 2)

Last week in Part 1 of this post I wrote about how I managed the undertaking of writing a novel.  This week I’m going tackle the harder part – the “Why.”

Why would anyone write a novel?  There are certainly plenty of reasons not to – the sheer volume of work, the difficulty of coming up with something new and different, the inevitable criticism (both deserved and not), the oft-underestimated amount of labor needed to get people to actually read said novel…  So why would anyone do this?

I think the answer is different for every author (and even every book), but for me, it’s pretty simple: I love to read, and I love to write.

I wrote Stitch because writing stories brings me great pleasure, and it was something I hadn’t really given myself an opportunity to do since I was a child, and I felt like it was finally time to start doing it again.  And since I love to read books – and especially love to read multi-book series with sci-fi/fantasy/romance themes – I decided my story should be in the form of a book, specifically book one of a sci-fi/fantasy/romance trilogy.  And to make the book unique, I decided I would break all the rules by taking the elements I loved from lots of different genres and seeing if I could fit them all together in one story.

So that covers why I chose to write this specific book, but doesn’t really address why I would want to write a book in general.  To answer that, I think it’s important to understand what books in general have meant to my life.

One illustrative example: I remember one time an old boyfriend of mine (not my fiance!) had stood me up for a date on a Friday night.  As I sat by the phone waiting for him to call, I decided to start re-reading the Harry Potter series to pass the time.  And by time he did call, I think I was more angry with him for interrupting my reading than anything else.  (Perhaps it should have been a red flag that I enjoyed my time at Hogwarts more than I did spending time with him…)

Another example: After I finished Twilight’s conclusion, Breaking Dawn, I remember entering a distinct depression for about two weeks.  It wasn’t that I was unhappy with the ending – in fact, I was thrilled that Stephanie Meyer had given those characters happier endings than I ever could have imagined for them.  But I was so lost knowing that there was no more Twilight coming.  I knew that world was over, and I wanted more, and I knew I wasn’t going to get it (except for the movies, of course), and it physically hurt.  The same thing happened to me after the Eragon series, and the Hunger Games, and Harry Potter, and many, many other books.

But that’s what books do for me.  I love books.  I LOVE them.  My favorite books have always held the power to bring me to another world and to introduce me to characters that I end up caring for like I would any real friend.  Books set me down in another place and time where my worries and ambitions and dreams are entirely different than they are here.  For me, books are nothing short of magical.

And for that reason, I’ve always held authors in high esteem, and was always dismayed by the idea of holding that responsibility in my own hands.  If I was going to write a book, I wanted it to delight readers the same way that so many books have delighted me.  I wanted them to want to stay home and read instead of going out on a Friday night.  I wanted them to miss it at the end of the series, to want more of it so deeply that that ardent desire overshadowed the rest of their lives for weeks.

Needless to say, that’s a lot of pressure for a debut writer, and so it took me a while (26 years…) to build up the courage to try. So why did I write a novel?  To see if I could do it – to see if anyone would love my book they way I’ve loved so many others’.

To date, one of the most gratifying comments I’ve received was from one of my friends who was reading the early drafts.  Her email said:

“Love the new chapters so far!  I definitely started reading the book instead of reading what I was supposed to before class, oops!”

And later another friend said: “I wasn’t planning on reading your manuscript until I got back from vacation, but then I loaded it on my Kindle and I ended up reading the whole thing in two nights.”

Those, to me, are the ultimate compliments – if readers are putting off their lives to make time for my book, then I know I did my job!  Hopefully others will feel the same after Stitch launches in a few weeks…

Until then, check back for more posts about my experience writing Stitch!  Next up: Why I Decided to Self-Publish

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