Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Long and Short of It

As we all know, one cannot be published without first having a story. Here's the short version of where TANGO came from:

My head.

Now for the long version.

It was a rainy Friday in Galway, Ireland. Not wholly unexpected. My apartment was five minutes from campus, so I'd woken up at 8:45 for my 9am class. I trekked to campus without an umbrella because, as some of you may know, they tend to be rather useless. The wind turns them inside out, and no matter what, you still end up getting wet. (What I'd really like to know is how Irish girls keep their hair straight, even when walking to class in the rain.)

Generally, I didn't go to my 9am Nazi Germany lecture, simply because it was early, and in one of the furthest buildings on the main campus. (Do not get me started about my adventure trying to find the business building). However, this particular Friday interested me. The syllabus said we'd be talking about life inside Auschwitz and other death camps, and my interest in Nazi Germany is through the roof. The politics, not so much, but the lives people led? Those are stories I'd like to hear.

I made it to class on time, unsurprised by the lack of attendance. Friday morning lectures were generally pretty empty. Dr. Healy (for anyone planning to attend the National University of Ireland-Galway, take Roisin Healy's class. She's brilliant) spent the 90 minute class showing us pictures of death camps, and the emaciated figures who lived (and died) there. She also mentioned the infamous Dr. Mengele, and his medical experiments. Briefly, she talked about him (or some other doctor) trying to cure death, and I remember thinking, "What if they had?"

Immediately, I pulled out my notebook and began jotting down ideas. By the end of class, I had the title, along with character names, and a very basic plot. I practically skipped home. I hadn't written anything in months, and I'd had a difficult time in Ireland. Writing has always been a huge comfort to me, and the thought of having a new story to work on was exciting. I spent the next week or so planning the story, and developing the characters in my mind. By the time NaNoWriMo rolled around, I was ready.

Over the course of 30 days, I wrote over 50,000 words for my story.

Then, I stopped. I didn't touch it until late December, when I got the idea for chapter 24, a chapter that I am still ridiculously proud of. And once I'd written that, I stopped again. Spring semester was fast approaching, and I needed to decide what to use for my senior thesis (creative writing majors are asked to write either a collection of poetry, a collection of short stories, or a novel). I had another story, an old one, I was considering dragging out of the closet, but when Nate told me I could use the next four months to finish TANGO, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

And that, my friends, is how TANGO was born.

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