Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Birth Of My Novel

I didn't know it back then, but I started writing my book during my senior year in college.

I had a methods class (a mini-version of student teaching) and my teacher gave us a project where we would investigate a topic in schools and create a multi-genre paper to present our findings. A multi-genre paper is where you present your information like a focus on your topic and present an analysis of it using things like stories, poems, graphics, comics and other pieces of writing or image.

I chose the topic of sexual harassment towards girls in high school and middle school. I loved (and still do) the powerful book Reviving Ophelia (Pipher) and used it as my inspiration for the paper. Sexual Harrassment and any bullying is a topic I am passionate about. I urge you to join the new group of YA Authors Against Bullying. Great things are already starting to be done in this group and you can also have a voice in the movement.

I created a story about a girl in high school who was harassed because of rumors. We had to create something that repeated between each of the entries, so I found the most vulgar Eminem lyrics directed towards women that I could find to place in between each page.

The paper was powerful and many of the ideas in it were transferred to my book. Here are some pictures of it. Please click on the images to enlarge them to read the pieces.

The rumor page was what sparked the initial idea for CANARY. I liked the idea of a girl who did nothing wrong, but things got out of control anyways through rumors and bullying. The book is a lot different from this, but it was the ideas that I carried around and transformed into the book I have out on submission right now.

Below is an excerpt from my book CANARY that was sparked from the multi-genre paper above:

I am a fish.
I swim around in a giant fishbowl while everyone watches through the glass. Their eyes huge and bulging, warped by the water, faces distorted like fun house characters in mirrors.
Bodies blocking the hallway, faces laughing.
Fingers pointing at me.
Looking at me.
All eyes looking at me as I walk through the halls.
I'm scared for class to end.
For the bell the shriek my inevitable doom.
I sit in class willing the minute hand to slow down.
But it never does.
Isn't that how it works?
The moment you dread is right in front of you before you know it.
The halls are the worst.
I keep my head down so I don't see them as I swim down the hallways.
But I can still hear them.
The words that tug at my ears.
Whispers that dance around me at night, blowing their harsh winds into my dreams.
Closing my eyes at night only invites their words to visit me in sleep.
The boys press against me in the halls. Pretending to stumble and grab me from behind as I push through them.
It makes me sick.
Their hot breath against my ear, "Now that Jack’s done with you, and Luke’s used you, let’s see how the coach’s daughter can play off the courts…”
And the girls.
Standing against their lockers.
Identical Barbies in their designer clothes looking at me with disgust.
Perfect on the outside, but I can see the fear inside.
Afraid to speak up because they may be the new victim. The one signaled out for the world to attack.
I want to scream.
To stand in the middle of the room and scream at the top of my lungs, "You don't scare me. I'm stronger than that. Look at me. Look at me for who I am."
But I don't.
Because they won't.
My mouth open and closes. Silent bubbles that float up with words that I wish I could say.
And I put my head back down and continue down the hallway as the thunder roars around me in silence.
In silence.
In silence....

What about you? Where did your ideas come from? What inspired your writing?


Matthew Rush said...

Wow this is awesome Rachele, thanks for sharing!

I don't have time to read all the excerpts right now, but I'll have to come back.

Kara said...

What an awesome assignment! I'm taking Methods I next semester, hopefully I get to do something as neat :)

Kristan said...

Love the fishbowl metaphor, wow. Works so well here.

I think my ideas come from my life, but it's always just the seed, and then I let the fiction take over to help me explore the possibilities and my thoughts and feelings. Like my first novel (currently drawer-ed) sprung from my relationship with my mother, especially after I started dating a black friend, BUT the way things play out in the book is very different from how they were in my life. The characters were different too. Ditto my current ms, which was "inspired" by my relationship with my boyfriend, but really doesn't look like our lives at all.

I dunno. I obviously use my writing to work things out for myself, and to explore themes that matter to me, but I want to tell a good story first and foremost.

Mina Carlisle said...

I think that is such an awesome assignment and so relevant. I wish my Methods class was doing something like this. Oh well, I guess learning how to write a theme unit is necessary, but not as much fun as that.

I'm not sure what inspires me because it's so many things. A life long interest or an experience or even a song. I love finding inspiration in the most unusual of places.

Christina Lee said...

WOWEE this was awesome!! thanks for sharing all of that--and I love your passage from your book!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Cool post. Great purpose and interesting to see your inpiration.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Good Stuff! Isn't it funny how that happens?
My first book was inspired by watching too much Lisa Williams. I started to wonder what a real medium living in a different time period would have to go through.