by Ernessa T. Carter
I've been trying to figure out how to write this post ever since our current topic cycle of trunk novels was announced. It's not that I never submitted a novel that didn't get published. I totally did. Twice when I was in college. Strangely enough, both query letters were strong enough to get me several requests for partials and one request for a full from agents. Unfortunately the writing was not strong enough to garner me any offers of representation.
Shortly after college, I switched from novel writing to screenwriting. I have several trunk screenplays, and scads of rejections to go with them. But then in 2005, I came back to novel writing, finished my debut novel in 2008, 32 CANDLES, and it sold in 2009.
I have no idea what happened to the hard copies of my college novel and I'm not sure how to go about getting them off their respective hard disks (remember those?). But in the end, it doesn't really matter, because the truth is, every single thing I write to the end becomes a zombie.
My zombie issue goes so deep that just yesterday, I announced to my writing exchange partner I would start sending her pages from what should have been my original trunk novel next Monday. You see, the very first novel I sent round to agents in college has been the biggest zombie of all. First, I rewrote it as a screenplay twice, then as a TV pilot, then as an adult novel. Now, I'm digging it up again and rewriting it as the YA series I envisioned in college, before YA was big.
Why? I don't know. Something just sticks in my craw about having a trunk novel. As an undergrad, I remember having a very visceral reaction to the story of Emily Dickinson, who lived and died in the nearby town of Amherst. Something just stuck in my craw about someone so talented dying with all of those poems hidden away. As much as I love Emily Dickinson's work, I never wanted to be that person. For whatever reason, I want everything I write to live and breathe out in the open while I am alive.
And when I die, I hope whoever eulogizes me will be able to say, "We checked on her hard drive, and under her bed, and on the top shelf of her closet, and in all her dresser drawers; she left nothing behind."