It is with great pleasure that I introduce debut novellist Leah Putz to the website today to discuss her writing journey. Over to you, Leah! Thank you, Val, for having me on your blog today!
My writing journey began before I can remember, really. I’ve been writing for my entire life. My mother used to have to bring me to work with her on occasion, and would give me scrap paper to color on. I would often use that to write short stories in abandoned cubicles.
I found my first novel attempt recently when my parents brought over a box of trinkets I’d left at their house when I moved. It was a notebook filled to the brim with a fantasy novel, complete with world-building notes, a map, and everything! I remember working on it vaguely in 6th or 7th grade. Frankly I’m shocked it’s survived, I usually scrap old works out of embarrassment, but I’m so happy I have this memento of my journey.
After I stopped working on that story I began another that I called ‘One-Sword.’ I worked on this novel from freshman year of high school all the way up through college before I just completely lost interest. It’s the longest stretch of time I ever worked on anything, and I just I just changed so much as a person during those formidable years that it was hard to continue it. I could no longer identify with the me that started that book. I’m not sure if anyone else has experienced this, but I feel this is a danger for works that stretch over a long course of time, especially if big events happen in your life that change you.
With that knowledge in my head, I strove to work more diligently to a) finish a book and b) do so in a reasonable amount of time (ie not 7 or 8 years). Through the next several years I began and abandoned countless novels. I quit for a variety of reasons, but the main one was a lack of outlining. This led to either writing myself into a corner, or hitting a point where I had no clue where to go with the story. I also tend to be very hard on myself when I’m writing- I usually think my idea is pretty good, but often feel the execution is poor (it often is in first drafts, hence the ‘first’).
The turning point was an event I attended featuring authors George RR Martin and Robin Hobb - two absolute giants in the fantasy world, and two writers I greatly admire. I don’t remember his exact words, but Martin mentioned that he often hates what he’s writing when he’s writing it, but he just keeps writing and at the end he hates it a little less.
When I started The Last Empath of Doctsland, my debut novel, I kept that nugget of wisdom in mind. Throughout the two years I was writing, I hated TLEoD many times. I nearly gave up many times. However, each time I harkened back to Martin’s words and just forged on. I also wrote an outline this time, so I could go back and reference that during the dreaded writer’s block.
I used to think all my failed attempts at writing a book were a waste of time and energy, but now I see them as necessary. I learned a little bit about what works or doesn’t work for me as a writer with each failed novel, and the culmination of all those years of wisdom brought me to The Last Empath of Doctsland, a debut novel of which I’m very proud.
Leah Putz has been writing for as long as she can remember. Filling notebooks in school, writing on the scrap paper stolen from her mom’s desk at work, and even producing a short story in 7th grade, distributed to family and friends. She writes almost as often as she reads. The Last Empath of Doctsland is her first novel. She set out to create a fantasy story featuring the key character types she missed when reading stories in the genre, notably strong women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ characters. She lives and works in Minnesota, spending her free time either hanging out with her dog Frodo, or traveling as much as possible.