Laboring a novel online…

61 South

Image Courtesy of Flickriver.com

I am using this National Novel Writing Month to tidy up and finalize my new novel; thankfully and ironically, I created the first draft of this work in my first NaNoWriMo attempt of 2012. Though I did not create a full and perfect draft, the major characters and trajectory and events of the story burst forth. And, after much tangling and untangling since, I look forward to commemorating this NaNoWriMo as the one that produced the publishable draft. Since this work is larger and more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done, it has been a challenge I am unsure I could have stuck with if not for these disciplinary movements.

It has been even more challenging because I set the work amidst a childhood place and its happy memories, with the novel set in a fictitious place in central Mississippi where my paternal family originates from. Travels there were among my first and only childhood vacations, and I fell in love with the idea of “leaving home” or vacations from these excursions. Currently, I have been in the biggest cities in America- quite different from lands of water wells, sweet potato fields, homemade biscuits and endless flower fields.  My first two books were set in the cities and environments I lived in at the times of their writing. When I was asked “What research did you do for the book?” I always answered: “I just looked around and lived life.”

That was not the case here with this work. While I have often criticized and lamented the overwhelming influence of the Internet and technology in our lives, and particularly its impact on education and reading and books in these dire times of illiteracy and poor academic performance, I have the utmost appreciation for it in the crafting of this latest work. I wrote my first two published novels while I was in school and waltzing into libraries every single day, so it was easier to get to one and find sparks to write off of. However, the peril of leaving academic environments for me has been an ease of exposure to mindless entertainment without the necessary immersion in harder stimulations which birth creation.

Because of information, images, stories and archives on the Internet, I was able to massage those old memories from the comfort of my own home (as opposed to daylong stints in the library, which I still love to have). I am quite sure I was able to go deeper into some topics and subjects because of online archiving. Furthermore, I was able to publish parts of the work online in outside venues, to cement the idea the book was real and not just a whim of my imagination.

This astonishing asset to my work converted me into a writer who reads literary journals online. I am still old-school; I like the book, the print and the paper in my hands. However if there is a choice between people not reading anything at all and reading writers online, then of course we should all be reading online. For the first time ever, I looked at the first printing and publishing of my books on a computer screen online: not in a galley or a book (Hermeneutic Chaos and gravel literary journals published excerpts of the book). I have been able to share it with my friends, family and readers in a way usually kept under wraps until a book goes to print. This has given me beautiful feedback as well as affirmation to keep going with my vision for the story and characters. And the community of support in my blog has been an utter Godsend.

So my experiences show there is GOOD in everything. It is always up to us to look for it and find it.

Please enjoy these online experiences of my work, both parts of the novel and images I was inspired by.

BLEDSOE…The Book (Images from Pinterest)

Singer’s (audio excerpt from Hermeneutic Chaos)

Expecting (print excerpt from gravel)

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