Well, it happened. After years of practice and dreaming of being a writer, I finally published my first book. How cool is that? It’s been quite the journey to this point, with more effort than I’ve put into any other project and some fabulous support from some wonderful family and friends. But even considering the late nights, lost GPA points (who cares about math worksheets when you’re writing a novel?), and newfound reverence for anyone who can put up with (what I consider) the frustrating world of graphic design, writing has been the best work I’ve done. A hard job, but my absolute favorite.

I began writing Meryton High when I was in high school, and what began as a fun project on vacation became the first novel I would complete. Meryton High is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic book Pride and Prejudice, which I was basically obsessed with at the time.

Learning to love the classics

Mind you, the obsession didn’t start that way. Until I agreed I would try to choke down some Jane Austen I hadn’t willingly touched classic literature. Heck, I was in high school, and to your average unassuming sixteen-year-old, a title like Pride and Prejudice sounds, well…kind of boring. And boring was exactly what I thought when a friend suggested we watch the movie at a sleepover for the first time. But luckily my friend insisted, and after giving the movie two tries my mind was officially changed and I was hooked.

What I came to realize with Pride and Prejudice–and with all subsequent classic literature I’ve read–is that what can come across as inaccessible to modern readers today is just the extreme surface of most older stories. Beyond aspects like language and setting, the characters and stories depicted in classic books are like anything we experience today. In her books, Jane Austen spent a great deal of time poking fun at social customs, norms, and wacky human behavior. And wouldn’t you know, a lot of those behaviors she satirized still take place today. There is a whole wealth of insight, humor, and wisdom in our culture’s classics, a great depth of material that it seemed most of my peers and I weren’t confident or excited about accessing. Enter Meryton High.

I wrote my book as a way for high schoolers (like myself at the time) to appreciate the characters and themes in Pride and Prejudice but with modern language and in a familiar setting. I understand that the older style is what some people like about classic literature, and that’s okay. But for me it was the characters, the relatable people in the stories that I fell in love with, and the purpose of my book is to help modern readers, especially younger readers, appreciate the classics and see them as relatable to their own lives today.

My hope is that you’ll enjoy this book, and perhaps not only enjoy it in and of itself but that it will be a gateway to exploring some of the great classics that we’re lucky to have. And if you’re already a classics fan, then I hope you have fun with this modern twist on a favorite story.

In conclusion

What have I learned from this experience?

That I love writing.

And I’m really just beginning.

Getting my first book out there has been a huge learning experience (and learning curve), but through it all it’s given me even more confirmation that this is what I want to do with my time and my life. It’s also given me the drive to learn more about the writing life and uncover the tips that good writers follow to be successful. Independent publishing is a tricky business, and I’m interested in learning more about it, as well as the traditional publishing route.

I’m already working on my next novel, a work of speculative fiction. How will that compare to this process? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

 

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