Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The first book I ever wrote

Some people may think that the first book I ever wrote was the first book I ever got published. But the truth is that November’s Child is not my first book. It’s actually the second.

Yes, I started writing November’s Child in my teens. But I actually wrote another book before that one. This, too, was a novel, but it was actually a spy story. As a kid, I was totally entranced by the whole “spy scene.” I wanted to know about spies, the kinds of spy tools out there in the world and I even took an interest in cryptography just so I could use secret codes. (I even tested these codes on coded messages I wrote to my siblings, just to see how hard or easy it was for them to break the code.) So it would happen that I wrote a spy story as my very first book, my first novel.

This novel was called Hide … and Seek. And even though I finished this book, I did not get it published. I passed it around to get feedback on it and I spent hours, days, fixing it up to where I felt it was publishable. I even queried publishers about it (even though I was not yet an adult). The novel received many rejections so I ended up trunking it. Alas, I also ended up losing it; it, along with the typewriter I used to type it up with, ended up getting lost in one of my many moves.

Still, I have fond memories of this book, even of the time I spent hunched over a typewriter and typing it up. (I write at the computer these days, but I still miss using a good old-fashioned typewriter.) It was fun to research the story and create my characters. It was interesting to find out what people had to say about the story and I felt a sense of pride when one of my friends liked it so much that he showed it to his English teacher at the school we went to.

I also wrote other books. I wrote a Star Wars spinoff novel called The Force is Back (oy, that title makes me cringe but, hey, I was 14 and thought it was a cool title!) as well as a collaborative story I tried to write with a friend but we ended up abandoning it after he and I kept arguing over things so much. (A side note here: I tried to get The Powers That Be at Lucasfilms to pick up The Force is Back but they ended up rejecting me. Family members can regale you with stories of how I kept bugging them about it and ultimately told off George Lucas’ secretary. I ended up giving the manuscript to my teacher.)

Like the characters Jonathan and Jovin in my novel, November’s Child, the story November’s Child will live on, only under a different title. It is the one book from my early years as a writer that will be an actual book for everyone to read, albeit as a completely different story than the original. The other books, however, will never see print. But they were a good springboard for me to launch into a career as a writer. The hours I spent at the typewriter instilled in me the importance of sitting at the desk to write every day. The trials and nightmares of rewriting and revising my work has helped me become better at coping with the rigors of rewriting and revising. (Of course, I still panic every now and again, but I get over it. I panicked when my publisher asked for a rewrite of Shadow of Samhain, but after the running around, screaming, crying, stomping, moaning, hair-pulling and constantly asking HOW IN GOD’S NAME WILL I DO THIS???!!!!, I sat down and got to work on it.) The actual writing of these books helped me to strengthen my imagination and broaden my creativity. Working with words helped me to use words better and put together sentences, paragraphs and scenes better. And the fact that I COMPLETED a book, even a novel, made me see that this book-writing thing is DOABLE. I did it before and I could do it again.

And you know what? So can you. So grab that story idea and start writing! Get yourself on your path towards being an author. We all have to start somewhere, but the important thing is that you start.

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  • At 11:10 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    I love reading things like this - it's amazing how perceptions are always focused on what's in print, rather then what's in our history. My first novel was entitled, When it Rains, but only a handful of people know this. It's unfinished, and will likely remain so. It was a little "too close" to home, and I couldn't finish.

  • At 9:05 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    I was reading Amanda Hocking's blog post on how some people were thinking her 8th book was her 1st one. And that got me thinking about MY first book. I have a whole notebook filled with old writing and I go over it sometimes thinking wow, I'm glad I don't write that badly anymore. LOL I have a bunch of other manuscripts on my hard drive or file cabinet and maybe I'll fix them up someday or maybe not. Who knows! I know all about stuff hitting too close to home. It's hard when stuff does that. I had that happen with my deaf parenting book, with memories of some bad treatment from family. At least you know yours won't be finished. At least you got started on the path to writing books. And look at you now!! :)


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