Write what you know

When I started NaNoWriMo in November 2009, I wanted to write something that was actually fiction, rather than a thinly veiled version of my life. I thought, “What can I write about, that I know a lot about, but that wouldn’t be about me?” Of course! Mixed martial arts. Rob’s passion.

I gave up trying to write it in one month, thought about it quite a bit over the next year, then signed up to take a 3-term novel-writing class at WWU starting last fall. The novel has come a long way since then, and I still feel like it has great potential and is totally original and marketable. Plus, I expanded the plot to include my passion: dogs!

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been on a stay-at-home, play-with-the-dogs, write-a-novel vacation. I felt way more productive last week, because it was sunny and warm, so I’d write a few pages, go lie down on the grass with my dogs in the backyard, rinse and repeat. Still, I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to produce 10 pages a day. This is a somewhat misleading goal, since it involves rewriting and combining scenes that already were written. I didn’t write 10 brand new pages each day. But the important thing is that I now have about 100 pages of novel to show for myself.

Yesterday, I felt a little bogged down in the martial arts stuff, which is peculiar, since that’s what the book is about. At this stage of my writing, I have two main audiences in mind. People like Rob, who will read my book because it’s about martial arts, and the people in my writing class (we’re continuing to meet monthly even though the course is over) who don’t know anything about martial arts, don’t really even like martial arts, but who like my writing and have been enormously helpful in developing my book so far.

The people in my class are not going to enjoy reading 30 straight pages about grappling and hubud and cage matches. But all that stuff needs to be written. Before I share it with them, I’m going to have to take a hard look at it and anticipate them saying that they don’t understand my description of what the hell hubud is. How does the hubud scene advance the narrative, other then to show that the heroine likes the way her instructor’s arms feel against hers?

I feel better about it today after working on some dog stuff. The main dog is absolutely a fictional character. He’s a pit bull named Apollo and I love him. I have a vision of what the book cover will look like: A silver pit bull with a pink boxing glove in his mouth. The title: Fight Like a Lady.

Don’t steal my idea, OK?

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