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Saint Mary’s first year discusses writing, publication

| Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When she was younger, first-year Saint Mary’s student Dalanie Beach wanted to do everything and be everything when she grew up. As she grew older, she said she found she could be anything and do everything by becoming a writer.

“You can step into the shoes of anyone you want to be and just go with it,” she said. “And I think that’s my favorite thing about it. I can be anything when I write”.

This mentality led her to self-publish three novels between the ages of 13 and 16 through an online publication site. As Beach gained more writing experience, she said she chose to remove the novels from publication, and followed the advice of a teacher who told her to take her writing to the Midwest Writers Conference.

While there, she pitched her contemporary young adult novel “Reckless Intention” to three agents and later signed with Bradford Literary Agency. She then embarked on a lengthy revision process with her agent and is currently working on finding a publisher for the novel.

“You can publish without an agent, but it is hard to do in today’s world when there is increased emphasis on the business side of things,” Beach said. “[The agent] handle[s] the business side while the writer handles the creative side. If you just send a novel to a publishing company, they generally won’t even open it. But an agent verifies, yes, it is worth their time.”

However, Beach said she does recommend self-publishing if someone has strong business and marketing skills. Working with an agent and going through six revisions of her novel taught Beach a lot about the realities of being a writer and how a work evolves, she said.

“I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of good writing which is definitely hard,” Beach said. “Sometimes you write a scene and it’s not working, but you really love it and you have to cut it out because it’s better for the manuscript as a whole.”

Despite the novel not yet being published, Beach said she is still writing. She quoted writer Franz Kafka when she said “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity,” and added writing and characters have always been her passion and motivation.

She is currently working on a novel based on Charles Dodgson, known by the pen name Lewis Carroll. She said the idea came from a research paper she wrote last semester and over winter break when she read Dodgson’s diaries.

Beach said through the novel, she hopes to clarify some of the misrepresentations of Dodgson present in modern society, such as claims that he was a pedophile or drug addict.

“I want to focus on him because he was so deep and complex. There’s a crazy amount of writing he has done,” she said.

After writing for so many years, Beach said she can no longer read without a pencil.

“If something strikes me as beautiful or meaningful, then I have to pause, re-read it and think ‘What did the author do here?,’ ‘What did they employ to make this happen?,’ ‘How can I use this in my own writing?’ It has definitely changed the way I read for the better,” she said.

As a first year, she said she looks forward to a few more years of college where she can strengthen her skills as a writer and learn about different styles and strategies. Beach said she has seen her own style and voice evolve since that first novel she wrote when she was 13.

“When I was younger, I would kind of imitate other authors,” she said. “I think that’s important for a writer to do, and then later on it is important to develop your own voice. Mine started coming out in ‘Reckless Intention,’ where I started playing around points of view.

“My shift in focus has gone toward the characters. I develop this person to represent something about humanity that I feel like needs to be said. And I feel like I have a certain goal in my writing now, to create something beautiful and truthful.”

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

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