I laugh whenever I hear someone say, “I’d like to write a book someday.” It’s as if they think they’ll one day just sit down and Viola! An epic tale that everyone is sure to love! Writing is hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart. I know. I’ve been at it now for more than a quarter century.
You know you’re a writer when you slog away, year after year, compelled by the story even when there is no one to read it. When you could have wall papered a room with rejection letters – if you’d only had the foresight to save them. When you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and creep to your computer hoping not to wake the household.
This is the story of my life. I started writing my first novel as a young stay at home mom. I’d always been interested in writing, but my primary creative outlet at the time was painting. I’d finished my degree in fine art a year earlier, but with a new baby I found getting out the paints and making a mess in our miniscule abode was just too difficult. Instead, I borrowed my mother’s old typewriter and pounded away for a couple of hours each day. Almost immediately I was hooked.
It wasn’t always easy to satisfy the craving, but to not write became unthinkable. Copious trees were sacrificed to satisfy my compulsions. After sixteen years as a closet writer I finally decided it was time to take the next step. With the enthusiastic naivety of someone who had been writing for a long time but never submitted anything, I was shocked by the first wave of rejection. Fortunately I turned each negative slash of the pen into an object lesson and kept at it. Another seven years went by. Seven years of writing, submitting, getting rejected, rewriting, resubmitting...
Finally in 2008 I signed my first book contract. It was for my debut novel And The Beat Goes On, a romantic thriller that released in 2009. Since then I’ve secured a literary agent and have four published novels, and five stage plays in print. If you do the math, that’s 23 years from the time I first sat down to write until my first book deal. It’s been only five since I crossed over into that nebulous realm of ‘the published’... a state fraught with its own set of hurdles, especially in terms of marketing and promotion.
If anything, I’ve learned tenacity. I’m in this gig for the long haul. They say good things come to those who wait. In my case, it was a lot more than mere waiting. A lot of sweat and tears went into every word, believe me. Still, I’m grateful for the journey and plan to keep on until ‘my eyelids no longer wag’. (Hamlet)