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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

School Helping with Real Life, What?

I'm a Classical Studies major, and as such this semester I have been taking a class about Pompeii & Herculaneum, and for my final project I've been working on a children's series that connects historical information with fantastical elements. It's aimed at middle graders (which I have been wanting to write one of those for a long time) and it's about a boy (boys have been seriously under written). It has been hugely difficult for two reasons:

I've never had to do actual real research with citations and keeping track of information while writing a book. Holy Cow what? I just write things. But when putting it in Modern day Erculano and ancient Herculaneum suddenly, you have to be sure the artwork is accurate and that the people's names are accurate and ohmygoodness what. What are they wearing? What does water taste like? What did they eat? AND YOU KNOW WHAT. No one cares about the middle class freedmen who didn't make loads of money. So much of my research is so much difficult because people only care about the upper class. And well, only the upper class could really write things that were written in papyri and saved for forever and a day. But phooey to them. I want to write about a freedman, who lost his wife, who takes a boy under his wing, and that boy is going to be a mythologically real creature that doesn't know it.

And this boy's name is Caecilius, and he is unburied in ancient Herculaneum by a Dr. Lazarus - alive. And Caecilius tells his story about life in ancient Pompeii.

And today I had to read my story aloud to class. AHHHHHHHH! Nerve-wracking. Because of the second reason:

I've had a really difficult writing lately. I'm supposed to be editing WhiteWashed. I'm supposed to be querying. I'm supposed to be getting published and at least working for it, but I haven't been. It's just easy to get frustrated because I don't feel like I know what I'm doing, and most of the time I just feel adequate.

You know. When you read a book and you're response is ".................." Nothing bad to say, but nothing to jump over either. And that's what I've been thinking. What if I'm not a good writer? What if I'm just adequate? There must be something I'm doing wrong. A part of it is I'm convinced I'm writing crappy query letters, though that's my fault. But what if what I've written is... just okay.

So today having to read stuff to a bunch of people thinking, hey, what if I'm just adequate? is not a fun thing to do. And, a blessing and a curse, the one girl brought her kids in. Kids that are the age range I'm writing my books for. Plus: the professor knows like EVERYTHING there is to know about Pompeii and Herculaneum. If I get ANYTHING wrong she will know. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Nerve-wracking.

On a side note: wrack is a weird word. Why are my nerves being wracked? That's just weird. Carrying on:

BUT I finished and there was that moment of silence, you know? when someone's reading aloud a good book, not an adequate book, a good one, and after the author stops reading everyone is waiting for me and taking it in... That was the silence I got.

Did you ever know silence can be an incredible gift?

And one of the girls said, "when you publish that book, let me know, so I can read it, and find out what happens." And my professor asked: "So, did you learn anything from her book?" and she said, "I learned that she can write really well." And my professor said, "Yes, we did." She's my advisor and ohmygoodness I was so nervous and AHHHHHHHH.

And the mother came up after me and said, "No, seriously, keep writing those books. The world needs that series."

Can I go cry now? No? I have to write a philosophy paper about Kant?

Well. Why knows. Maybe this paper will also help me in real life. Because there's this strange thing that happens when you just go through life and live it: awesome things happen.


Joan Crawford said...

Aw! "I learned that she can write really well" Hooray for you! I don't know first hand, but apparently you kinda have to be wracked with self-doubt at times in order to be a good writer. That and a fair share of them become drunks. Being a writer is an incredibly stressful job! Congrats to you, Girly Girl :)

Mia Hayson said...

That is awesome! Woooo!

I totally understand the adequacy thing. I fear being adequate. I know it's weird but most of the time I have to either be good at something or DANGEROUSLY BAD. At least being bad is a thing. At least there are STORIES in being bad. Haha. Anyway. That is my worry sometimes.