Works in Progress
Get the backstory and playlists for each project.
Junot Díaz said this of writing the Pulitzer Prize winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’:
“The novel had me lost the entire process. The beginning only revealed itself at the end. Very frustrating to find yourself having to start at the beginning again, but that’s how this writing game is.” (From the New York Times, T Magazine)
Yes, yes, it is.
Somehow it cheers me that even a genius like Díaz felt the pain. Writing is hard. Glorious, but hard.
I find myself again at the beginning of my YA novel. You wouldn’t think a simple tale of falling in love and discovering you’re a writer would be so freakin’ complicated. But it’s clear that every beginning thus far pales in comparison to how this novel might actually start. It hurts, draft eight! Yet I stare with wonder as my protagonist’s voice FINALLY fills the page.
Until I decide that it doesn’t. Then, maybe, draft nine. Oh, God, no!
Díaz continued, “In the end, I handed the book to my editor convinced that what I had written was a colossal failure. I spent the next eight months demoralized about the 11 years I had wasted on the book. Even after the awards, etc., it took a long time before I let myself look on the novel with any kindness.”
Yet, he didn’t quit. So write on friends. Because we love it while we’re hating it.
So I’ve been in the cave, editing mostly, since June. Apparently summer happened. But I’m at rest with my current project, so look out world. I have lots to say in the coming weeks.
When I sat down to write Jeezus Geeks & Rainbow Freaks, it was called The Boy with the Blue Hair. It was supposed to be Shilo’s story. Then I met the character Matilda. She had other ideas. She was angry, incredibly fun to write to and impossible to ignore. Mat’s entire life consisted of being silent and invisible, or so it first appeared. Once uncorked, she wouldn’t stop talking. That’s when I realized this was their story, and I couldn’t leave out their new friends Liza, Will or Annabelle.
Suddenly I had five narrators. It was very exciting and I was scared. I thought, please universe, don’t eff with me. You gave me the idea; please make me the conduit to do their story justice.
I knew I wasn’t writing a “gay story” or a “trans tale”. Rather I was telling a human story about love, connection, friendship and trying to find our place in the world.
And I was afraid.
I consider myself an open person. Live and let live. Be curious, and all that. But to tell this story, I had to be 100 percent emotionally naked for everyone society has previously labeled “other”. I generally don’t give a crap about what anyone else thinks, but this was out there on the vulnerability scale, even for me.
However, this is why I’m here. Why I’m so excited to be alive at this very moment in time, as the world opens and love returns. As previous restraints blow away and we are all free.
Call it God, Allah, Source, Chi, The Force or The Universe—it makes no mistakes. She’s intelligent. He’s genderless, all-knowing, all-powerful. And it is love.
And so I trusted, opened my heart, listened carefully and wrote.
We are all other. And we are all one.