“Why don’t you get off your soapbox every once in a while?” my uncle said, referencing my columns. I respect his opinion — he’s a former assistant cameraman, after all, and he taught me everything I need to know about gate-crashing the entertainment industry. And despite my controversial viewpoints, I’m not interested in being angry all the time. So I’m going to slow it down this week, with a little meditation on my novel.

By the time you’re reading this editorial, I will have officially pitched my first complete rough draft to a small publishing house. And even though I am often reluctant to admit that I’m one more young person punching out an almost-roman à clef, it’s an occasion for reflection.

I still have a long way to go, but I almost didn’t get here in the first place. In ninth grade, I embarked on a special out-of-school writing class, and found my precocity challenged by a jovial teacher who equated daring vulgarity with artistry. At the time, my problem with this was not so moral as it was that I didn’t have anything to say that required profanity or sexual themes. Of course, I believe wholeheartedly that when the story calls for such content, and that it can be done in a way that honors the human spirit, one cannot shrink from adding such themes. But his teaching led me to toss gratuitous curse words into my dialogue and write about affairs to make my ethos-lacking stories more acceptable. When I couldn’t do this, I felt stunted, believing I would never be a “real writer.” Over the past year, I hammered the last nail into the coffin of my old pedagogue’s philosophy and started to write what I wanted to write.

Since then, I’ve finished my first substantial, serious rough draft. For the first few months of this break, I would go to eight o’clock Mass and, on a good day, start writing around 9:45. I would work straight through until I watched sports highlights at noon. On a wonderful day, I would punch out a few more pages in the afternoon before I hunkered down for “The Bachelorette” in the evening. (I’m a sucker for trashy reality shows.) The best I ever did in a day was seventeen pages. You’ve heard it before, but beginning your work in the morning and writing at least five pages is the only way to get anything done. Then there was that glorious day when I wrapped, to put it in film-speak. Soon after, however, came the crash where there was nothing left to do but slowly ponder ideas for a sequel. A writers’ conference came at just the right moment, as did securing a slot for a pitch session.

I’m still not sure what I hope to gain by publishing. Everyone always says, “Don’t expect to make money as an author,” and I never did until I started running up debt going to the University and thought about how nice it would be to garner a little cash via my labor of love. And I do plan on aggressively pursuing producers to option a movie adaptation, which would be even more of a dream come true than publication, if that’s possible. I’d love to see my ideas colorized and gilded in celluloid and projected to more people than would ever buy the book.

And while I’ve gotten better at handling criticism since starting this column, I’m still not interested in The New York Times Book Review casting its learned eye over my little tale. Nevertheless, this book has to go somewhere. I gave it to God every morning at those Masses and the characters began to walk and talk on their own, as they are wont to do, as I scrambled to build a satisfactory structure, like Ariadne constructing dreams in Inception. It’s something I want book-crazy teenagers to drink in — one more quality libation in the ever-growing pile of YA works.

That makes my intentions sound a lot nobler than they are. But it’s normal after having written something to want it published. So I’ll put it out there, hoping for a kind review, hoping for a movie version and hoping I inspire someone in some intangible way. Someday, perhaps, I might be able to hope for a check for my troubles.

Anna Paone can be reached at apaone@umich.edu.

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