I had an interesting experience yesterday morning. It was the day of the monthly Reading Club at my daughter’s middle school. Sharon had agreed to read for her class, but last week she suggested I fill in for her and read the first couple of chapters of Iron Dragons, the NaNoWriMo novel that took me 51 weeks to finish. The teacher thought it was a good idea, if for no other reason than to demonstrate to the kids that you don’t need to be J.K. Rowling, R.L. Stine, or J.R.R. Tolkien to write. (All you need are initials, apparently.)
So at 7:40am Tuesday, I began the first public reading of the first chapter of my first novel. It soon became clear that many American 13-year-olds suffer from sleep deprivation. Fortunately, the teacher served the function of the elder in many colonial churches, poking those who nodded off with a long stick.
After twenty minutes, my protagonist had encountered the first dragon of the book and survived, albeit barely, leaving his fate in doubt as I concluded, thanked the class, and rushed off to work twenty minutes late. My impression was that the class was nonplussed, except for my daughter and the girl next to her, who seems to have a fascination for dragon stories.
I was wrong. I’ve forgotten that there is a certain minimum level of “cool” that has to be maintained when you’re thirteen years old and in the presence of the opposite sex.
When I got home from work, my daughter said the class loved it, and even the “populars” went out of their way to tell her how good it was. Yep, it looks as though we’re set for a good two or three sales at least when the book finally comes out.
I did find that the language needs to be massaged a bit. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that, a year after I put the words into the machine, I’m still pretty happy with what came out. Most of all, I’ve discovered over this last year that I really enjoy stringing words together, so much so that I’m willing to get up early and share them with a bunch of sleepy teens.