Writing My First Novel
Two years ago I finished the rough draft of my novel, but I have lost the desire to finish editing it, at the moment anyway. Perhaps one day I will look at it again, but this discussed a bit of what the novel was about.
Yes, I am what you call the veteran single woman who is writing a romance novel that will deviate from the trends. You know the alpha male millionaire and dazzling beauty he rescues and molds to his perfect soul mate? Sorry, but the book I am writing is not about characters like that! My characters may go to exotic locales, but they actually use public transportation, or walk home since they enjoy being pedestrians. No exclusive chauffeurs to be found in this tale of a woman stumbling through the trying world of dating. My inclination to write such a novel might not appeal to the average romance reader, but I am going to pitch my idea to them anyway.
I have finished writing the 71,000 words of my novel, which I am now editing - slowly - and wishing I could expedite myself. When it is finished I will send it off to a few publishers, but I might try my hand at self-publishing if this does not work out.
I do not expect to make a fortune and retire to some deserted beach once my novel is published, but that was never my objective anyway. My goal was to write a fictionalized account of the ordeals modern women go through in the dating world. Even though women have all this freedom, but what about the social pressure to conform and marry? Have things changed that much in fifty years? Why are some single women constantly admiring wedding dresses and considering going into extreme debt over a frock, especially in this economy? My novel is the antitheses of all that since my heroine, who I will call L, is woman who is finally realizing being happy is paramount, and romanticized love is not usually realistic.
I am not ready to reveal the name of my novel, as of yet anyway, but I will use the first initials of each character in the story-line so you can figure out whom I am talking about in this summary. In the past I have had too many problems with people plagiarizing my writing, so I will share some of what my novel is about without giving too much away.
My main character is a young woman, named L, whose parents divorced when she was thirteen. She took her mother’s side in the divorce because her dad decided to marry another woman, and he pretty much wrote his daughter off after that. She moved about five miles away from her father, but he had nothing to do with her for the rest of her teenage years.
L goes to college and decides to become a teacher because the people around her encourage her to enter this field, but her classroom management was not the best, and teaching stressed her out. This happened to me in real life, so even though this is a novel, I am basing the story-line on a few real scenarios. L goes on a last minute vacation to Hawaii to escape the anxiety of teaching high school, which is something I did once, too.
At the outset of the novel, L is twenty-three, slightly insecure, and envious of her best friend’s marriage. Her friend, named N, is the modelesque type who married right after college, and was pregnant by the age of twenty-three. L is barely able to hold down a job as a teacher, but N is pregnant and dreaming of going back to school to become a teacher, as she raises a child. N is the perfect woman who can do it all and this makes L feel inadequate about her own life choices.
The novel is based on what women many single in their twenties and thirties in the dating world, and how some of us do not get married and have that perfect family everyone sees on the Christmas card. I was never the type of woman who dreamed of a big wedding day or that overpriced dress, but in my early twenties some of my friends kept encouraging me to date. Some of my friends were married by the time I reached my early twenties, and it made me think that maybe I was falling behind my peer group. However, I have never been in lock-step with my social counterparts when it came to clothing and dating trends, which is why the age I started dating, twenty-three, and my motivations for doing so differed from many people I knew growing up.
Also, many single women are made to feel there is something wrong with them or they are approaching dating wrong if they remain single after a certain age, but usually this is not the case. Getting married is more about timing and luck, and the high divorce rate illustrates not all of those relationships were so happy ever after. A woman who is single in her thirties also might be a bit more opinionated about things ,and yes there is the chance she might be turning off a few perspective dates. However, it is not that she does not want to get married, but she would prefer to find a life partner that matching her world views. When she is her twenties she might feel insecure around her friends who imply her approach to life and men is some how lacking, but over time she will realize this is usually not the case at all. Not all women who get married truly want a good and stable relationships, some of them might just dream of wearing a fancy dress and having a big party. People do not like it when you point this out, but there is a grain of truth to that.
In my twenties I was made to think I should be dating someone because people kept mentioned they thought it was weird I was single at my age, so I asked my friend to set me up with a guy who liked me at first, but he was only attracted to me as long as I remained highly distant and unavailable. Honestly, I should have listened to my intuition and never dated until I met the right person. I do not regret my experiences, but I might have done some things differently if I could have gone down that path again.
The male lead in my novel, named J, is not quite as aloof as this man I dated years ago, but L goes through many of the same things with J that I did with the first guy I dated. She is a twenty-three year old woman dating for the first time. In her naivety she automatically assumes they are in a relationship after a one-week whirlwind romance in Hawaii. Thus, L is crushed when J suggests they move in together and continue with their friendship, and see where it takes them.
L feels cast off and thrown away by J. Honestly, L is a bit envious she is surrounded by women who navigate the treacherous waters of the dating world and manage to get married in their early twenties, and all she is being offered is a friend with benefits scenario. L might not be the type who dreamed of a wedding before, but now she actually feels she loves a man she has just met, and thought she had a connection with. L's heart broken by this rejection, but she learns over time that she did jump to conclusions. Many women are approached and told they are marriageable from the get go, but L realizes her independence, and divergent opinions often deter some more traditionalist men. Even more open minded and modern thinking men might not want to have a relationship with her, but that is usually because they are not really looking to have a relationship with any woman. J tends to fall into the latter category, but L thinks there must be something wrong with her because of his rejection.
By the time L is thirty, she actually realizes this is a good thing because who would want to marry a jerk that would monitor her every move, or a player who simply married her because she pressured him. L is the type of woman who speaks her mind, and over time, she learns that for all the progress society has made; to some extent, many prefer a woman who will not rock the boat. Therefore, it dawns upon L that she is at a crossroads and does not fit in anywhere. She is not exactly the staunch feminist who wants to live alone, but she is also not the type of woman who most men would consider relationship material.
L dates a few men in her twenties, but gives up after a while because she realizes it is not making her happy. Part of her thinks J almost every day, and part of her still loves him. L is courageous and decides to write off dating after she turns thirty so she can learn to become content focusing on her artwork, and writing. One day she builds up the strength to confront her father, and to let him know how he hurt her at a young age by abandoning her. L’s dad infers she is a witch -- using a rhyming euphemism -- for showing up unannounced at a family gathering.
L has a cathartic experience at this family reunion, and comprehends that many of her nagging thoughts about how she should be married with a child at thirty comes from her mom and dad’s dysfunctional relationship. Her mom never remarried, but still believed the pinnacle of her existence was being married and having a child before twenty-five. L is now thirty and has not met either of those milestones, so her mom is bewildered. L’s mom never remarried because she carried a torch for her first husband, so my character finally realizes marriage is not the answer in itself. L’s mom has a warped nostalgia for the eighties when they were all “a happy family”, but L knows that time was not perfect, her dad often did not come home at night for dinner, and she refuses to live in the past like that. What is it about the eighties anyway? The music was great, but the clothes and lifestyles were overdone.
Some of L's friends who were “happily” married a few years earlier are now divorced, and are too busy to have time for their former friends. Marriage seems to be a club some people join for fun and convenience, or an institution some people use to feel superior. L‘s epiphany is you have to create a strong and unbreakable relationship with yourself first and foremost, because that is the only one you can count on. There is no guarantee that man you walked down the aisle with will be by your bedside when you are ill twenty years later. You can only depend on your family and real friends through those times.
Marriage was once a business contract and women had dowries, so the entire idea of the love marriages is still somewhat of a new concept when we look at the age of human civilization. L is disenchanted with the storybook endings, and she does not want to be a statistic of the world of dating, especially since all she met up until 29 was an assorted group of players. Her view is it is better to be single for rest of your life than to ever have to go through a divorce.
L fulfills a dream by moving to Hawaii and starts working on her novel. She even has an unexpected rendezvous with her first love, J, a few months later on Waikiki Beach, but storms away because she is still hurt. J surreptitiously follows L home from the beach because she was the one who told him years ago never to call since he did not want a relationship with her years ago, but he never forgot her. They decide they are still drawn to each other on some level, and are willing to try a friend with benefits arrangement. J is not a bad person, per se, but he is the type who buys into the bachelor until I am ready to settle down mentality. L learns along the way he is a bit more traditional than she thought, but she is still not quite free thinking enough to handle a friends with benefits scenario.
Eventually, my novel will come to a resolution, but the couple’s closure will be much more realistic and down to earth than the storybook ending romances. J is not the alpha male type, and L is not the needy damsel in distress. They both explore their strengths and sensitivities within the friendship, and learn to care about and love each in a real way. I am writing this novel because even though I really do not see the point of dating in my world, I want to give a voice to women who do not fit into the conventions of society.
Some married women can be very critical of single women, and this novel says; my life is not exactly like yours, and that is okay! Some men who claim to be modern and purportedly like strong independent women balk when these same women do not agree with them 24/7. For all the progress we have made as a culture, I believe society has much farther to go when it comes to accepting women for who they are. Men are not subjected to the stereotypes women have to deal with. My novel explores these issues.
Do I Have A Name For My Novel Yet?
I have choose a name for my novel, but I am waiting until around the time it is published to reveal it. Not trying to be secretive, I just want to keep my work copyright protected. However, I encourage anyone who wants to write to start writing their own memoir or novel because I have found the experience to be very rewarding.
Finally Editing My First Novel
I am using Nanowrimo as an opportunity to edit my first novel. Most people usually end up writing a rough draft of a novel during the month of November, but I have decided to use it as inspiration to finish up this novel. Some people can write a novel in three months flat and have it become a best seller, but I am just hoping to perhaps have my novel ready to send off to perspective publishers by June. So yes, I am giving my self about six more months to edit this novel and then be done with it. Then I shall see where the chips lie, and see if I can find a publishers for it.
More by this Author
An introduction to literature of the Pacific.
The book review of Our Lady of Kaifeng.
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