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Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Anniversary

Do you remember what's historic about March 26, 2010 10:42pm?  Odds are, you don't but I'm here to tell you.  March 26, 2010 is when I finished the first draft of my YA novel, Dream Girl.  That moment had been seven years coming.  Let me explain. 
A friend of mine had given me a nice suede covered journal as a gift years ago which I decided would make a great writing journal.  On January 30, 2003 I wrote down these notes from a bizarre dream I'd had:

A dream
A strange new male co-worker with dishwater blonde/brown hair and a squarish rugged face begins giving me stories on tape to listen to.  The stories are usually quite odd.

-sisters, young girls, who for some reason have to cut their feet off...in their pretty little shoes.
The man and I go to visit their home and encounter the ghost of the sisters and their cruel father.  A horribly creepy scene, but I'm not scared by it.

-go back in time to visit two brothers, young men in their 20s.  Long hair in pony tail-dark, red head with shoulder length hair.  We aren't afraid of each other.  We picked the day dark hair suddenly goes mad and dies.  Unfortunate.  He's very kind.  A guard comes in to inspect.  I fly to the top of a tall bookcase to hide.  The brother's body lays on its back on the floor, red head kneeling beside it.  I close my eyes.  Open them to find guard's blade inches from my face.  I pinch the blade and point it away.  Explain I'm not from there.  Disappears.  I wake.

Ok, so those are some crazy notes.  But the dream was so vivid and unusual that I felt I could use it for something, someday.  Flash forward to 2005.  I was doing book reviews for www.myshelf.com  I had requested a YA book called A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence because it sounded interesting.  I picked the book up as soon as it arrived and read it feverishly.  I loved it.  When I put it down, a lightbulb came on in my brain.  It basically said, "Oh my God.  That dream I had, I can write it as a novel but it needs to be a YA novel!  I did a little thinking as the basic outline and characters started to form in my head.  I first sat down to write it on August 31, 2005.  I got married September 9, 2005.  I got pregnant shortly thereafter.  Life came on with a vibrant vengeance and Dream Girl went mostly into hibernation again. 

After my son was born, June 2009, I decided that it was now or never for Dream Girl.  I wanted to be a writer.  I kept telling people I was writing a book but was I really?  I wanted it to be a reality.  I wanted something to show for all my years of thinking and wishing and wanting.  So I sat down to write as I could find time and I worked it out.  I averaged 2-4 chapters a week.  I gave myself the deadline of having the first draft complete by the time I went to LA for the SCBWI writer's conference in August.  And, dear reader, I accomplished that goal, ahead of schedule on March 26.  Whew!

But the story doesn't end there.  Following writerly advice, I let the draft sit for a few months.  I figured I earned the break and I could get started on revising after the conference.  And yes, that's what I've been doing, slowly, ever since.  If you've been following this blog for awhile, you know there have been ups and downs and that I've started and re-started the revisions.  I've had breakthroughs and setbacks.  Currently, I'm back to breakthroughs.  This week, the pieces in my head finally clicked together.  I hadn't been happy with my first draft ending and I knew I needed some major plot fixes and after months of pondering, I believe it's finally come together...again.  I am just as excited about this project as I was when I woke from that vivid crazy dream in 2003.  I can see potential.  I can see progress.  I can see myself growing and becoming what I've always wanted to be, a writer. 

There is still a lot of work ahead to complete the revision process.  I am still working through that as time allows.   I still need my trusted critiquers to look it over after that.  I'll need to consider and incorporate their suggested changes and then, maybe then, I'll be ready to tackle that all important query letter. 

But that's where we are, one year after I finally completed the first phase of this crazy project.  Happy Anniversary, Dream Girl.  I can say, with certainty, you only get better with age.