So, I am in the midst of writing my first novel. It will be my second book, when and if it gets published, my first book being It Ain't Truth If It Doesn't Hurt, due out from Summerfolk Press this coming spring.
So this book, so far, is about a little kid, growing up in an abusive household, that all of a sudden finds himself wielding tremendous power. The first thing he does with the power is kill his abusive step-father.
Ain't that a bitch.
I am about 52 type written pages into the book or roughly 19,000 words. I know where the book is going next, and I am pretty sure I know where this book ends (though I think there may be some sequels to it). It is part autobiography and part exorcism, and writing it is like channeling an alternative mini-me with the power to see auras, summon spirits, and tear abusive stepfathers a new asshole.
It is an interesting exercise writing this book, as I am following the old maxim "write what you know." The book, for the first six chapters, is set in my hometown of Duluth, MN. Much of it is set in an apartment building that I lived in briefly as a child that was actually an old convent. Next, the kid is going to be hauled off to the hometown of my birth Father in the southern mountains of West Virginia. I need to go and visit Ronceverete, anyway, to visit my Great Aunt Sis. But, also, I want to visit the place to make it more real in my memory, since the last time I was there was 18 years ago. This town is the same town in which my family were held as slaves, so there is some serious history in this place. There has been a member of my family in the county since at least the mid-18th century, and since 1709 we have been in the Virginia Colony. So, I am feeling the pull of the homestead, so I can capture the spirit of place.
It also helps that in my Great-Grandma's backyard is a century+ old tombstone, tumbled over, and the maiden name of the woman on the tombstone is one that is shared by my Great-Grandmother, who, incidentally, swore that this woman was of no relation.
Don't think that isn't going to end up in this book.
In the end, writing a novel is both similar and wildly different than writing a poem. Poetry seems to capture a single moment in time and reflect it back with some analysis but mostly raw emotion. A novel seems to take broad swaths of time and delve into the woulda, coulda, shouldas in a way that is both cathartic and crazy making.
Hold on to your diaphragms ladies...this is going to be a hell of a ride.