Making the decision to self-publish my novella, Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean, has been one of the most freeing decisions of my life.
I finished the first draft of my novella exactly three years ago (January 2016) and it has been nothing but a long, tenuous journey since. I’ve edited and rewritten it so many times in the past three years that I’ve lost count. Back in January 2018 I told myself that enough was enough and I was going to finally self-publish; and here we are, a year later (and a couple more rewrites) and I’m finally doing it. (It doesn’t matter how long it takes do something, right? As long as it eventually gets done? Right? Right?!)
Rather than focus on my writing journey for this first post, I thought I’d share with you just a couple things that I want you to know about Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean.
Inspiration. I wrote this story to have an excuse to go to Paris. Ok, not really, but it sure gave me a great excuse to go back. This may be cliche (oh, it definitely is), but Paris is my favorite city and I knew I needed to write a story to pay homage to the birthplace to so many pieces of art and works of literature. I am well aware that this is not unique. It has been done hundreds of times and probably will continue to be done a hundred times more. But rather than get bogged down by all the different takes of Paris by all the different authors, I find them invigorating. It was a community and a collection I wanted to be a part of. Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean isn’t “just another” story that takes place in Paris, it is an addition to the ever -growing series of love letters that authors have dedicated to that beautiful city.
The prose. Look, I hate being told what to do. I especially hate being told how I’m supposed to imagine the appearance of a character five chapters after the character has been introduced. Too late, man, Becky is short with brown hair now and there’s nothing you can do about it (not even mentioning her golden locks every chapter until the end of the book). One of my biggest annoyances as a reader is when I would come across a book that contained too much description. Unless the exact number of freckles on Becky’s face is a metaphor for the number of months it will take to get her life together, why is it important to me? And I know a lot of people love prose that is full of detail and description, and that’s ok. I’m just not one of those people. So, I approached my story with the question – how can I be as ambiguous as possible and still get my point across? To no one’s surprise (just kidding, I was floored), the first draft was far too vague. After many rewrites, here is some of the ambiguity that remains and why:
- Character description – there is none. It was important for me for readers to be able to imagine my characters to look however they wanted. No one in the story cares about whether the main character in the story is tall, short, fat, slim, muscular, brunette, or blonde, etc., why should you? In this story, the appearance or build of each character adds nothing. I imagine each character a certain way and you will imagine them your own.
- Character names – there is one. The main character, Katherine, is the only character who gets a name. Every other character is referred to as the role that they play in her life.This was essential because it hones in the focus even more so on her character development. It was meant as a statement, “this story is about Katherine, what she is going through, and what she would always inevitably go through no matter who the other people in her life were.”
Let me be clear, this is an experiment. I have no idea whether it will be successful or not. I’ve had many people tell me to add more, but, being my stubborn self, I have argued against it. Will I ever do it again? Probably not. Writing a whole story and only referring to characters by their roles was hard!
That’s it. I don’t want to give too much more away, but this story was a passion project for me. I’m incredibly excited and overly nervous to finally be releasing it out into the world. With the publication of this novella, I’m freeing up headspace for my next story and, I guess also kind of just as importantly, achieving a lifelong dream of becoming a published author.
You can find my book here.