I never thought that I could write a novel. It wasn’t for lack of trying–I wrote many novel “beginnings”, but never got to a single “ending.” I would get three chapters in, and then I’d have no idea what to do. Somewhere along the line, though, things started to change. I started to think that I might want to write a novel, beginning to end. I sought support from many places as I began the novel that would go on to become my grad. school thesis, but the catalyst that set the whole thing in motion was really just a single author and two hardcore and heartbreaking novels.
Tiffanie DeBartolo’s novels were what gave me the final push toward believing that I could actually write a novel. Not just try to write a novel, but to actually do it. I was in college when a friend gave me a copy of God Shaped Hole. I read the whole thing in a twenty-four hour period, and then I called my friend in tears, and asked him why he’d give me a book that would make me so sad. The reason God-Shaped Hole utterly destroyed me was simple: I felt like it was about me! Well, sort of. DeBartolo was writing about characters that I related to in a way I never had to any characters that had come before. I looked like they looked. Their lifestyle was my lifestyle. My feelings were cemented when I read DeBartolo’s second book, How to Kill a Rock Star.
It wasn’t just that I connected with her stories. It was that I connected with her writing, as well. Characters aside, Tiffanie DeBartolo’s writing is honest and edgy, which I love. As a teenager, I read a lot of old books. At that stage in my life, modern writing was the garnish on my plate of literature. That being said, DeBartolo’s hit me hard. Her books made me realize that there was a market for the kind of writing I wanted to do.
At that point, I was ready to commit. The year after I graduated from college, I started writing my novel in a journal that had been given to me by a close friend (Thanks Rob!) Those pages, after I’d typed them of course, got me into graduate school. Two years later, the completed novel earned me my degree. The work of writing a novel was completely and gloriously different from the work of being a poet. I fell in love with the process, which is why I’m writing another one.
Publication is an uncertain thing. I’m still seeking representation for my first novel. It’s the writing that is certain. I’m grateful for Tiffanie and the books she unleashed on the world. I’m grateful that my novel exists, published or not. And if you’re reading this, I’m grateful for you, too.
A really fantastic interview with Tiffanie can be found here:http://www.onceuponacity.com/1/post/2008/7/tiffanie-debartolo-amazing-gracerock-n-roll.html