Someday I might pay handsomely to keep this all quiet …
by Sharon Ashwood on February 25th, 2009

woman-with-letterThe topic “favourite paranormal stories that I didn’t write” is a bit ambiguous. Does that mean a story that someone else wrote? Or does the “I didn’t write” mean books that I wanted to write, but never got to? Too many of those to list in one blog!

The topic might also mean my problem children—books written or partially written that will never see the light of day. I have at least five ‘under the bed’ books. My earliest full-length, complete novel was written when I was 16, and it was a coming of age story which I believed worthy of common stock in Kleenex. Enough said.

During university I wrote a peculiar novel about a frat house where some of the Romantic English poets lived and attended classes. I also had John Constable and Eugene Delacroix having a torrid affair. There was a beach-at-dawn duel between John Keats and the narrator. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. Probably exam stress.

Then there was one I wrote when I was incarcerated in Secretarial College. Yes, that’s where (during the last major recession) cash-poor English majors went after graduation and there were zero jobs to be had. We weren’t allowed to wear jeans and had to sign in and out. Absences required a doctor’s note. A come down from cum laude, let me tell you.

I wrote, during the particular hell known as typing class, a comic adventure about a vampire, a werewolf, and a tiger’s eye ring. Writing was my means of mental survival and, what the heck, I was typing, wasn’t I? It was a very hot summer, I was stuck in a room with about forty IBM Selectrics all going at once, and the roof next door was being tarred. Blargh!

While I was clerking at the mall part-time, I wrote another historical involving a consumptive poet, an opera-singing count, devil-worship, a secret baby, sorcery and, oh, a few other odds and sods. It had (she says with a sentimental quaver) my first ritual sacrifice scene.

There were others, plus a boatload of fragments, bright ideas and things that puzzled my editor. Yes, I’ve become much more aware of the demands of the commercial market, but I’m glad I wrote for a long time with no eye to sales potential. I had amazing adventures, made mistakes with gusto, and plumbed the depths of cheesy plots—all with no one (except teachers and employers) looking over my shoulder. Now I can settle down and proceed with more method, less hysteria, and a snowball’s chance of getting another human to read it.

Those old manuscripts had better stay buried, though. Good thing I’m too poor to be worth blackmailing!

3 comments to “Someday I might pay handsomely to keep this all quiet …”

  1. 1

    Ah, but there’s other things than money a blackmailer might want, like ARCs and dedications, or maybe a character in a book. But that would be a blackmailer, not me. No, not me.


  2. 2

    Ha, Zita, I was SO going there too! I mean, not ME, but a blackmailer.

    Yay to temp jobs for supporting the arts!


  3. 3

    Wow, Sharon–you were prolific in your early days as a novelist.

    I think having the freedom to make mistakes and go anywhere your imagination takes you is incredibly valuable. Trial and Error have definitely been my best teachers so far.


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