an introduction: say hello to my new novel

So I think it’s time I reintroduced you guys to my newest novel, The Art of Letting Go.

Some of you may remember it from Camp NaNo last year, and the weekly updates I did (here’s week one, week two, week three, week three pt.2 (??? yeah, I don’t know how that works, either), and week four).  It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it because, frankly, I haven’t had too much time to work on it.  What with school (Junior status achieved = win), work, reading, obsessing over Peter Pan (thanks to this) and Anne of Green Gables (thanks to this) and Into the Woods (thanks to the movie, which I recently watched for the first time, and a local production that I’m playing violin for – SQUEEEE), singing along to random songs, and just trying to live life well, I haven’t found much time to work on it.

But it’s incredible what happens when I do get the chance to work on it.  Just look at this:

It hits me a few days after Valentine’s Day that the next hurdle I’ll have to jump will be the Senior Prom. I think about it as I fill orders for customers at Jerry’s, as I drive to and from school, during classes. The question I can’t seem to find an answer to – should I go and wish I could be with David, or should I stay home and miss my Senior Prom – haunts me.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

What would David want?

A few weeks before prom, I’m finishing the last of the homework I’d been assigned and the question is, for the millionth time, on my mind. I complete the essay, look over my work, and email a copy to my teacher for grading. Then, I close up my laptop and spin around in my chair, surveying my room.

I don’t know what David would want, I realize, staring at a picture of the two of us that’s hanging above my bed. I had it printed a few days before Valentine’s Day, finally deciding that it was time to look back on my relationship with him as a happy time in my life, not marked by sadness. At least, I think, rolling my eyes and pushing off my desk to spin the chair around, that’s the plan.

I pull my legs up and watch my room pass in a whirl around me. I feel like a human tornado, spinning around horrifically without wreaking havoc on the world around me. Sometimes I feel like this without being in the chair – like I’m a ticking time bomb that’ll go off in a chaotic swirl of emotion and wreck all the relationships I, somehow, still hold onto. The chair slowly stops and I’m left staring out the window, my body listing to the side as I try to reorient myself.

And sometimes I feel like this, I tell myself with a smile. Surveying the beauty with an inner calm that I can’t explain.

I frown. But that doesn’t solve The Prom Problem.

I sigh and stand up. I cross the room and am out the window in seconds. I sit down, pull my knees up to my chest, and lean back on the siding next to my window, watching the light fade from the sky. The sun’s already gone down, but there’s a faint light still in the sky, left over from its rays. I can already see the moon over the trees. I decide I will stay out here until the stars light up the sky.

I don’t know what it is about this project.  It feels like there’s a magical something that happens whenever I work on it.  I feel like I get this incredible blessing of being able to write beautiful things that have amazing potential (after editing, of course).

Or maybe it’s just me?  I don’t know.  If you guys think the above quote is awful or amazing, let me know.  (Seriously.  Comment.  I love comments.)

Anyway, the thing that scares me about The Art of Letting Go is what it’s about and, like what I said before, the potential it has.

BECAUSE THE THING HAS AMAZING POTENTIAL.

I’m just scared I won’t be able to reach that potential, you know?  I’m scared that it’ll fall flat and I won’t be able to accomplish what I want – which is to help people through grief and depression.

If you’re new here (first: HI!), the story’s about this girl named Daniella who witnesses her boyfriend get killed in a horrible school shooting.  Throughout the duration of the novel, she has to learn how to move on and let go.

At least, that’s what my initial idea was.  (Which I came up with literally a week before NaNo started.  Yeah.  Seems to be the Thing To Do ’round here.)

Since then, it’s morphed into so much more than that.  It’s about true friendship and depression and loss and how different things factor into our perspectives on life and when the words “moving on and letting go” seem easy and flippant and how actually doing that is JUST the opposite.

And it’s hard to write.  SWEET BUTTERED CRUMPETS, it is hard. to. write.  Especially when I know that I have this massive vision for what I want it to be and I feel like I can’t get it on the page.

The hardest, most daunting thing about The Art is that I’ve never gone through something as tragic as Danni.  (Praise God!)  I know The Number One Rule of Writing is “Write what you know,” so… I’ve had to write from empathy.  (But I have many issues with that rule, which I won’t go into, so I’ve basically ignored it while writing The Art.  We’ll see how that works for me.  Pinterest helps a ton.)

I also want the characters to seem real.  That’s one of my personal being-too-hard-on-myself critiques that I had for Becoming Nikki – looking back, it feels like the characters are, at times, a little too one-dimensional.

But that’s the thing about writing, I guess – you write to write and you write to get better.  I want the characters in The Art to be relatable and flawed and really fantastic.  I want my readers to be able to connect with Danni and David and Kyle and Mal and Matt.

So I guess that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  Trying to encapsulate this massive vision into a 200-page novel that grips readers and encourages them and changes them.  Nope, not hard at all.  (<—- Sarcasm.)

Anywho, I just wanted to re-introduce you guys to The Art (aka TAoLG, which is how I’ll probably reference it in the future) because it’s my current work-in-progress and I’m this close to being done writing it.  (*cries tears*)  It’s the story I want to try to publish via the traditional route, so it kinda has to be good.  I’ll probably rant about it more in the future, so… you’ve been warned.  😉

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14 thoughts on “an introduction: say hello to my new novel

  1. Pingback: year in review: 2015 | inklings press

  2. I loved the excerpt Ashley! I personally am not a fan of present-tense stories, but the way you write kind of erases that hesitance and I actually felt like i could relate to Danielle. I’m always afraid I’ll lose my friends because of my inability to cheer people up (i’m not good with spoken words) or my…uniqueness. So good job!

    • Wow, thanks a lot! I wasn’t a fan, either, ’til I read The Hunger Games. 😀 I’m glad you felt like you could relate to her, too! *happy dance* LOL, I tell people I write better than I talk all the time. So I get it. 😛 Thanks!

  3. First, I am not at all sorry that I got you addicted to GGF 😉

    Second, I love the excerpt. I have to agree with Morgan; I want to cry after every single one you share. It has the appearance of a keeper.

  4. Wow! Reading about your book has made me emotional, brings back a lot of memories *blinking back tears*! Though I haven’t been through everything that Danni has… letting go… that’s something that something major that I have HAD to learn and am continuing to learn! I can’t wait to read all of it! I personally think that you are doing a great job, Ashley! Just keep going, let the focus and stress of it HAVING TO BE POTENTIAL go. The potential is there and will be even stronger/bigger when you’ve finished!!!!

    • YAY! 😀 Haha, they make me want to cry, too. I guess that’s a good thing. 😉 I can’t wait to start to edit it so it’s decent enough for you to read!!!

      • I can’t wait to read it!! I looked through the Pinterest board for the book the other day. *sob* And Green Gables Fables. I’ve started watching it now too. I can’t say I love it since I generally don’t go for modernizations, but I do like it, and may possibly be addicted now too.

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