How The Best Girl Came to Be . . .
When I took my first writing class, I simply wanted to tap into my love for creative writing. The class, taught by Patricia Hoolihan, was described as a refresher course. During class, we shared our work, and received feedback from Patricia and our fellow classmates. By the fourth week of class, I felt reinvigorated and wrote a draft of what became the first chapter of The Best Girl. I read the chapter, which describes an intensely violent episode that occurred when I was four years old, to the class. When I was done, Patricia spoke about the healing power of writing, and encouraged me to keep writing my story.
As I wrote a bit more, my family became intrigued, and wanted to know more about my childhood experiences. I have two siblings, a brother who is six years older and a sister who is eight years younger, and they also wanted to know more about their sister. But, even then, I wasn’t in the mindset of writing a book.
Once I had about four essays written, I found myself making an outline, and then realized I was actually writing a book; The Best Girl was born.
I then decided to join a writing group. At the first meeting, I read the latest version of the first chapter. One of the members of the group suggested I write the book in the first person. It was then that I changed from writing the book as a reflection to writing it in the first person. Once I found THAT voice – I was on my way.
It wasn’t easy, by any means, to write in the first person. I had to really think about what type of child I was, and what my communication skills were at each developmental age. I found the ages eight to ten the hardest to write – some chapters came out sounding more like a four-year old than an eight-year old. In addition, to make each chapter authentic, I had to put myself back into my house, back in front of my father, back in school, back into the trauma.
Once I had about one third of a draft completed, I asked Patricia Hoolihan if she would be my professional editor. I then gave a copy to Patricia, as well as to three Beta readers, and continued writing while waiting for their feedback. Each chapter has now been revised approximately five times, and the entire manuscript has undergone eight revisions.
To accomplish writing the book, I set up a writing schedule. Typically, I was at my computer by 8:30 a.m., finishing up around 3:00 p.m. Most of the time, though, a full chapter would come to me during my morning shower. If I could have dictated the book from the shower, it would have been completed in record time!
I will admit that there were days when I could not write for more than an hour. Reliving some of the scenes occasionally took its toll, and, on those days, i would have to stop and remove myself from it altogether. The issue of re-traumatization, as well as the healing process of writing, will be covered in future blog posts.
Please feel free to comment on this, or any of the previous posts. I would love to hear from you!