… finally getting around to writing that novel

This is the first assignment in the course INTRODUCTION TO NOVEL WRITING offered by The Writer’s Workshop • The class is taught by Jana Harris • The text used for this class is The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray 
 • October 21, 2020 Assignment 1

ASSIGNMENT 1: Write a 500-word profile about yourself. I’d like to know who you are and how you express yourself in prose.

In 1988, I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in English Literature. For a fifth year, I enrolled in creative writing classes where I wrote a short story about dump dogs. The joy of writing this story propelled my vocation as a waitress ever onward. For a decade I attended a plethora of writing classes. I began at the UW Extension in the screenwriting program and rolled into their creative writing series. My teachers included Stewart Stern, Scott Driscoll, and David Downing. I attended ongoing classes with Pricilla Long, Rebecca Brown, and Brenda Peterson. The latter gave me the opportunity to do research for author Linda Hogan. I assisted in the editing and wrote an essay for their anthology. “Radioactive Tumbleweeds” appeared in the The Sweet Breathing of Plants originally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. During this time, I attended many of the mainstays of the 1990s Seattle writing community: Hugo House; PNWC; Centrum; and the timed writing sessions organized by Robert Ray at various Seattle cafes.

In 2001, I moved to Buffalo, NY on a whim. Buffalo is where I was born and where my extended family lives. My brother opened a local tavern where I assisted as manager and barkeep. During this time, I expanded my writing opportunities by learning how to code websites. I acquired more digital skills including photography and editing images for websites, e-marketing and social media. (see my latest website).

I am a stay at home mom. About that …

I met my husband in Buffalo. We reassembled the house he had stripped down to studs. I endured many miscarriages until I secured one biological son who is 14 and adopted another son, now age 8.

During these years as a stay at home mom, I have primarily written for blogs, some personal essays and an occasional homily for my church.  A sample of my published work along with the publishing credits are on my blog: Talking Iguana.

While living in Seattle, I started a novel in Pricilla Long’s class. It is a fictionalized version of my tween years. My father is a retired special ed. teacher. In the seventies, he established a school in the Trinity mountains and worked primarily with troubled teens. As a template for my novel, I used the fairytale of “The Three Sisters” which is one part Grimms, one part Onieda Legend, and one part Petticoat Junction (a 60s sitcom). The novel is a coming of age story similar to the ones I grew up reading: The Outsiders, Lord of the Flies, and The Pigman where teenage issues drive the plot and narrative.

Since my youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD, I have been drawn more and more into writing this novel. Many of the characters arrive at the fictional school because of their special needs. My hope is to write a young adult novel which can hit its literary marks, be driven by its characters, and offer a great read.

This class is funded by a generous endowment to my writing by my mom. She also edited the final draft of this assignment. She continues evermore to raise me up.