You read that right. I'm nearly finished writing the rough draft of my fifth novel. In the past nine years, I've written four MG novels and one YA, in addition to more than a dozen picture books. And no, in case you're wondering, I don't yet have an agent or a book contract. I've had fourteen publication credits to date, but they're all poems or flash fiction or micro fiction for adults.
Still, I keep writing for children and teens. Perseverance is my mantra.
But I have to admit, Novel #5 is, well, a little different. In what way?
I started an idea notebook for my fifth novel back in the late spring of 2015, so nearly a year ago. After gathering ideas, and working out character sketches and a setting and a conflict, I wrote three chapters. Almost immediately, I became stuck. Something didn't feel right about it. So I put it aside and revised my fourth novel instead.
And then, in September, after reading Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (even though it wasn't the first verse novel I read), I had an epiphany.
This new novel? The one I was stuck on? It was meant to be written in verse.
I spent two months reading and studying verse novels and then in November 2015 I started writing Novel #5 all over again.
Am I crazy? Well, this doesn't feel crazy. It feels... right. Since making that decision, the process has changed for me. Writing a verse novel is the hardest thing I've done as a writer, but at the same time, it's like I've grown wings. I look forward to writing every day, which is something I never did with a rough draft before. Rough drafts are usually agony.
I've been accepted into the Highlights Foundation workshop on Novels in Verse which will take place in May. Who knows where this will lead? Maybe nowhere. But maybe, just maybe, something good will happen.
For the rest of April, in honor of Poetry Month, I'll be looking at a few of the verse novels I've studied in my quest to learn this new (for me) form.
Over the past few years, I've read, in approximately this order:
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
42 Miles by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (this made me first fall in love with verse novels)
Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant
The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas
Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli
Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Libertad by Alma Fullerton
Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle
Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
(I've also read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, which is actually an autobiography, and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, which some consider prose poetry.)
What verse novels do you recommend? All suggestions are welcome.