Friday, March 22, 2013

A Week to Remember, Thus Far

Last Monday, I finished the first draft of The Season of Stories. This is my first attempt at writing a YA novel.  The years I spent tormenting 9th graders in the classroom inspired me to see if I could write something that would appeal to young, intelligent readers.

The Season of Stories is the shortest novel I’ve written--the manuscript contains 255 pages.  Ironically, writing this draft took more time than any of my previous novels--the manuscripts of which were considerable longer.

The question I’ve been asking myself of late is “Why?”
And the answer I’ve come up with is because of the complexity of the narrative.  That is, there are two separate storylines with a gap of 450 years in between.  One tale follows the life of the indigenous princess with whom Vasco Núñez de Balboa fell in love.  Several Spanish chroniclers who were present during the establishment of the first colony on the American mainland mention the princess’ existence, as well as Balboa’s affection for her.
The tangled circumstances surrounding Balboa’s feat--he was the first European to set eyes on the Pacific Ocean--and his tragic end are difficult to unravel.  Oddly enough, although understanding Balboa’s history is certainly challenging to deal with, this storyline wasn’t entirely responsible for the painfully slow pace of the first draft.  The second tale is mostly to blame for that.
This thread of the novel is set in 1961 and deals with a twelve-year-old boy whose life is about to face drastic changes.  His parents are moving back to their homeland, far away from everything he knows and loves in California, including language.
In writing this part, I navigated blindly.  Whereas with the princess’ story history gave me a blueprint, I never had a firm grasp on exactly where the young man’s story was going next, and only a vague idea where it would end.
Still, in the end, I’m rather excited by the end result.  I now have a little break before tacking the rewrite.

As soon as I finished the rough draft, another mega-project required my attention.  This evening, I leave for Europe with twenty-five students and three colleagues from Balboa Academy.  Although there will be plenty of sightseeing, the main quest of our excursion is to learn more about Art History.  Thus, plenty of time will be spent in the magnificent museums of Madrid, Paris, Rome, and Florence.
The work of being a chaperone is dreadfully hard, but someone has to do it.  (I know, I know, it’s a terrible cliché, but can you blame me?)
This will be my first trip to Europe, so I am definitely excited

Yes, it has been a week to remember, and there are many more memories to build in the days ahead..
To top it all off, when I return home I have a rough draft I am eager to start tackling.
Life doesn’t get much better than this.