Friday, August 13, 2010


Thanks to a post from Grammar Girl on Facebook, I learned that Penguin Books is accepting unsolicited manuscripts until the end of October.

I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. Dig through a box of my memories, and you'll stumble across a spiral notebook with a blue cover. Inside, on the first page, you'll see the title of the first novel I tried to write: "The Planet Ruled By Dogs." After the obligatory chapter designation, you will see (most of) the first sentence: "Once upon a time in a gala." That's it. I'm assuming I meant to write "galaxy" there, but I had no idea how to spell it, so I stopped writing.

In my youth, my writing adventures also led me to write a novel about my Lego pirate characters (way before pirates were cool), and the story of a female TV reporter who became a detective. I also tried my hand at sci-fi and wrote about an alien space vessel running from the evil alien overlord Gorgaxx.

At one time, I even created a pen name for myself. Not sure why I needed one, but it seemed like a good thing to do at the time. For a while, all the stuff I wrote included a "by Michelle Hamilton" tag line. I'm surprised I remember that one. I think I really wanted to be a Michelle when I was a kid.

The January after I graduated from college, I made a New Year's Resolution to do some writing - real writing, not some silly email I had to write for work or anything - every single day. I stuck with it until about September. I actually made some significant progress in what I considered my "real novel." That one even has an outline, and a title. "Tragically Flawed," it's called. It's a semi-autobiographic novel about a woman a lot like me who goes on a lot of first dates trying to find a good guy. She also has other challenges to overcome - at one point, she makes a life-changing career move. But after that year, I didn't really work on it again. It remains unfinished.

I've written since the downfall of "Tragically Flawed," but nothing serious. National Novel Writing Month comes and goes every year. Sometimes I finish, sometimes I quit. But I've never created anything there that's worth working on or polishing. Certainly nothing I could bear to submit to a publisher.

You could say that I am a writer. You're reading my writing right now. And I really enjoy writing in this blog. I guess I just always pictured myself to be a fiction writer. This blog is far from fiction, and I don't really know how to translate this kind of writing (the kind I'm best at) into something as lengthy as a novel, or with any kind of plot. My hairstylist once told me I should write essays like David Sedaris. I do like David Sedaris, and I could likely fill a book with all the stories I can tell, but if that's the sort of book that I want to submit to Penguin. I think I lack the necessary confidence. And experience. Maybe even talent.

But at the same time, wouldn't it be great to tune into NPR and hear me reading one of my essays on "This American Life?" I would enjoy that very much.

Perhaps the best thing for me now is to keep doing what I'm doing. I'll keep up the blog and you'll keep reading it. Fun for everyone, even if it's not NPR.

1 comment:

  1. You sound like you pretty much know what you want with writing--to keep doing what you're doing, personal, essay-type writing. I think that might be my most natural type of writing too--a sort of journally voice.

    One of the great things about blogging is that you have an ongoing audience and ongoing feedback--unlike with a novel that you might work on for months or years before anyone reads it.

    I do wonder a little about all those Nano novels--are you sure there's nothing worth polishing there? Your craft must be improving from all the practice (and you were already a good fiction writer to start with...I read Tragically Flawed), and in eight or so years it seems like you must have had at least one good premise...
    but if you're just doing it for the fun of it and have no interest in polishing them there's no reason to force yourself.

    Lizz, who often just lurks but is reading. :)