Saturday, October 10, 2009

Working It Out/Writing It Out

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.


  1. Tell me, are these excercise demons the same ones keeping me from my treadmill and the gym. Seriously cuz let me tell you somethin, these are some powerful demons. They have been holding me back for years and I cant build any strength up cuz each time I try to get on the treadmill, one of them pushes me off...Im exhausted!


    I can't wait to read it, Sweetie!

  3. I don't know if it interests you to see how others have done it, but two of those books I mentioned deal with children facing the occult. "The Good House," by Tananarive Due and "The Bone Doll's Twin" by Lynn Flewelling. "The Good House" deals with a modern day black family who get caught up in the legacy of an old curse ... and the other has a more typically pseudo-European historical feel to it, but they're both excellent. I recommend that trip back home to take a look around --and try to get the old folks talking; they're always full of incredible stories you'd never think of yourself ...

    Kai in NYC

  4. Thanks Kai! I will definately pick up one or both of those books. And, I am most def going to make the trip back home. I know my own Aunt Sis has tons of stories to tell. Thanks for reading.

  5. Oh, you KNOW I am so excited to read this already!

    It's like Carrie, only in brown.

    Good luck with this and keep us all posted.

  6. Yay! Lookin' forward to readin' 'em both!

  7. Thanks Chad and Thomas! I am going to work on it a bit more tonight. I must have been subconsciously channeling Tru Blood as there are some parallels to the show, which I watched tonight for the first time, but I think it will prove different enough.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insights. And thank you for reading!