"Trying to write a novel" is a familiar feeling to me. Every word I write feels like a word I've written before. Why? Because, according to my hard drive (which doesn't contain early typewriter or PC-penned works, e.g., the YA series The Pink Parrots about a girls baseball team), I've started approximately 10 bajillion novels already. Let's comb through the ashes of my prolific output, shall we?
Why have I written so many novels? I don't know. Have I ever done anything with any of these novels? No I have not, except Jennie Novel, which I mass produced & binded properly for distribution at emerson middle school. My friends gave it five thumbs up and then my Dad gave me a stern talking-to regarding how printers age. It's not just about the ink, which is replacable, but about "wear & tear" on the printer. V.important to know.
Anyhow! I've signed up for NaNoWriMo 'cause I like to live on the edge of a mental breakdown at all times, putting in as little sleep as possible and spreading myself thinly across a variety of unpaid projects so that I can live up to my family's expectations by becoming a very promising & talented failure who once published an article in Marie Claire.
TOP TEN NOVELS I WROTE [OR STARTED] BEFORE WRITING THIS NOVEL
My earliest works are mostly adolescent attempts to write the life I wish I had and to do my best interpretation of an Aaron Spelling television melodrama in novel form. Inspired by Francine Pascal, I'm sure.
I was seemingly obsessed with things I'd never done: boys, girls, drugs, parties, shopping sprees, fancy best friends, drunken evenings of wild revelry, etc. But yet I never wrote a protagonist with a living, breathing father -- I manage to get all the way into "Tara and Becca" without mentioning ANY fathers whatsoever, as if they'd never existed. Oh, The Land of Mothers.
10. Jennie Novel (1993) - Let's Get Sick and Cry!
Word count: Unknown, as this file no longer exists (never fear, I've got a hard copy) and I'm not sure if the lyrics to Now and Forever count as words anyhow. FINISHED!
Inspired by Lurlene McDaniel and Major Depressive Disorder, the story of a girl who's friends are dying of cancer or something. She paints murals in trance-like states, spends a lot of time sitting on the front porch thinking, cries often, and seemingly listens exclusively to the League of Their Own soundtrack.
In addition to the fantastic play BUT THEY ARE MAD and the screenplay HIGH ON LIFE [which we read from in this video] we also found JENNIE NOVEL while packing up my apartment in August and read some sections out loud. I asked Stef if she could say a few words about it:
(Stef, a.k.a Uh[Hu]ltragirl)
9. Fly By Night (1995->1997) - My Name is Cornholio, Give me Fire!
Words: 29,919 - FINISHED!
Began as a short story called "The Firemaker," clearly attempting to capitalize on the popularity of Steven King's "Firestarter," which was a big hit amongst the popular boys in class I had crushes on. Erin runs away from home with her little brother Tommie who complains she's spent all their food money "on matches." Erin meets a Jordan Catalano look-a-like named Fly down by the schoolyard and together they build a home, family, etc., and then send dear Tommie to live with a foster family. Erin recovers from her dangerous addiction and gets her G.E.D.
Opening: "Erin threw an isolated flickering flame into a pile of boxes. The fire was instantly spread. Box after box slowly turned to black then dissolved into a small white ash."
It's the large white ash you've gotta look out for kids, FYI.
8. 1995 (1995) - The Secret Life of the American Teenager!
Words: 28,642 - UNFINISHED!
Due to its explicit sexual content, I kept this diary-style novel hidden on the family computer in a folder called "School Stuff." I know, I'm very smart, I learned that and other stuff in school. It appears to be the story of a girl who goes from unpopular to popular, gets better clothing and a boyfriend & then another boyfriend -- much like the storyline promised to me by 'Teen Magazine if I used Love's Baby Soft.
Opening: "After school tomorrow I go ride Black Knight, my horse. If it wasn't for him, I don't know what would keep me going. It's like I'm so depressed all the time. I have no friends, I don't get good grades, no one thinks I'm pretty except for my parents. I have only two friends, and they're both losers. At least I have some money."
Last paragraph: "We went over to his house and smoked pot, and had sex. Then we ordered pizza, and his friend, Jack, came over, who was really funny. We just joked around a lot. Then Tyson drove me home, and I gave him head on the way back."
I know! !!! I guess after that there was really nothing else to say?
7. Fate and the Love Triangle - 1996 - Like a bad chick flick, in words!
Words: 22,634 - UNFINISHED!
Luckily this particular polemic lays out its plot & purpose straight away: "This is a story about the Lovelock sisters: Louisa, Winona, Gabrielle and Claire, and the four men who are fated to be with them -- the four men who are the only ones in the world who can make these four women happy. This is a story about love, fate, friendship and the importance of sisterhood."
Apparently attempting to dethrone Louisa May Alcott with a contemporary tale that tackles the Big Issues. I just want to add that Winona (named after Winona Ryder, my Number One Girl Crush) works at The Gap and when they go to Kroger's, Claire gets "popsicles, candy, soda pop, Kids TV dinners, frozen shrimp, frozen mozerella sticks, frozen pizza, frozen bagel bites, blueberry bagels, cream cheese, Handi-Snacks and Fruit Roll Ups." Much like my own shopping list at that time.
Adventures in naming: Eye doctor Michael Martini, U-M student/paramour Leonardo Alexander, band Blind Eye Dog
6.Tara and Becca - 1996 - TACCA!
Words: 16,146. UNFINISHED!
I reeled this clutter from the depths about 1.5 years ago when I did a search on my hard drive for "Tara," trying to locate I guess something related to my then-girlfriend named Tara.
Like 95% of my adolescent writings, the narrator loses her virgnity, rebels against her Mom, admires her friends' mini-skirts, gets raped maybe, becomes popular, goes shopping, is torn between boyfriends, and has intense sexual yearnings towards her best friend and idol, Tara.
When I found this seminal work I showed it to T[ara]B and later we read it together out loud, LOL'ing at its inanity and well -- so many odd things. Beginning with -- how odd, the character's first name being Tara.
And how odd, the opening line: "Tara is so crazy. I mean, when I get around her...it’s like I can’t even control myself anymore."
5. Underground Nation - '96 - Let's Rave!
Words: 9,124. UNFINISHED!
"imagine this story as a fully dressed person who by the end is naked." Written in loosely punctuated bizarre half sentences and run-ons, reading this work is comporable to being trapped on a Shanghai-bound airplane with a speed freak 16-year old who won't stop talking about her boyfriends, super hot bff sadie and her bubble gum.
I must be imitating someone, unfortunately for myself I think this is when I read A Clockwork Orange.
nouns invented for crazy underground nation: pissant, crazyheart, mallboy, firesmoke
adjectives: sexyhot, nextofkin, funashell.
description of a rave: "walking in there originally to the rave, just a lot of all strungout people like here and there. downstairs just red lights, drugs and music real good music and people just dancing in their underground minds...diffrent than the one in the daylight and in the lifetime that is to be seen."
Once you enter the world of writing-related academia, novel-writing falls to the wayside in favor of shorter forms. Or perhaps it was just that I got older, and had less leisure time, or that I liked my life well enough that I didn't feel the need to immerse myself in the alternate reality enabled by writing novels.
Instead I wrote a memoir, short stories, articles, essays, screenplays, teleplays. Unfortunately! 'Cause obvs we're all on the edges of our seats about Tyson and the BJ.
'Cause I might try to pass these novels off later when I can't find a new metaphor, I'll stay illusive (jk, I just don't know how to figure out what they're about, as they were all Corrections -style polemics intent on family history before plot development).
Opening: "In the picture at the zoo, I am four years old and I am wearing courdoroys and stylish Adidas sneakers. I have blonde pigtails and a genuine smile that says nothing but Look at Me, I am in Front of the Elephant. Look at the Elephant!"
sidenote I totally know what picture I'm talking about there, and it's adorbs.
3. Untitled. Apple Works document name: "A big Book." - January '04
Words: 5,184 - UNFINISHED! (not such a big book after all.)
2. Untitled. Ambitious Doc Name: "Great American Novel." Nice, Riese! - April '04->June '05
Words: 17,925 - UNFINISHED!
Opening: "When Leah was apprehended on the roof of Moore High, she was wearing an army-green bikini and cradling a water gun bigger than her thigh."
1. For A Girl - August '05 - January '06
I might actually still write this one so I CAN'T GIVE IT AWAY! It was actually gonna be a seriously well planned YA series y'know like Gossip Girl! Abandoned it when the bisexuality book project started. Howevs the older I get, the further away kids these days become, they're probs all robots by now who don't know how to grow a tomato. I think I often write for adolescents 'cause I feel they'll be more tolerant of suckage. The title was inspired by the Madonna song. "What it feels like for a girl ... " etc.
Also I think I totally recycled/revamped the intro for relevant inclusion in the blog post "The Night Starts Here." This is the first sentence from that book, lame as it might be: "The thing is; we all feel we have gotten away with something. We are spies in a cheap detective movie, Elmer Fudd in body glitter and sunglasses the shapes of crop circles."
I think I'm gonna finish Underground Nation, in the first scene A;ex and I are going to go to a fancy benefit (her firm did their design), get drunk for free and then actually willingly go to Nation just to dance to good music for three hours.
Then I'm gonna come home, be super drunk, tell A;ex if she wants to have a serious conversation we can talk about Gossip Girl, wake up on Sunday super hung over, and write this. It's like autobiographical, but with suspense, mystery, life, love, truth, death, heartbreak, dancing, and feelings, all wrapped into a sandwich comporable to The Catcher in the Rye meets Rubyfruit Jungle. Buy together and save 30% on Amazon today with The L Word Book, Annie on my Mind, Lying: A Memoir and Prozac Nation.