It's been going on for about twenty-seven years now, this dream of mine. I'm talking about becoming a writer. I suppose I have already achieved my original goal, but for the most part I feel as if I am still in pursuit. This is a good thing. The day we stop growing, dreaming, pursuing something, is the day we die, be it physically or metaphorically.
You may have heard me tell the story before - of how I started banging out my first manuscript on my mother's borrowed typewriter while my newborn infant slept nearby. Those early years of writing were done during snippets of time while the children slept or were otherwise occupied, and let me tell you that after four babies and nine years of homeschooling, those moments were precious indeed.
Is it any wonder that the dream of seeing my words in print never amounted to much more than that - a dream - for so many years? Who had time to pursue publication? Beyond that, the thought that someone might actually want to read anything I wrote was almost too much to hope for. When I finally did begin to consider the possibilities, I had no idea of the rejection and just plain difficulty I would face.
With the demands of teaching, both at home and then later when I went back to work in the public school, my writing time switched from short, daily bouts to large chunks of time during summer holidays and such. This worked well for several years and I was able to finish several manuscripts, while also writing stage plays for my high school drama group.I was able to set aside the writing for long periods of time and just come back to it later when I could focus on it. Of course, I began to throw out a few queries here and there, but never got much beyond that.
Then everything changed in 2008. Late in 2007 I began to experience the effects of a congenital eye condition that I had been warned would probably kick in sometime in my forties. I was scheduled for my first eye surgery in February of 2008, not knowing what the outcome would be. To make a long story short, I was almost totally blind for the next two months until my second surgery in April. I had a white cane to help me get around, but I was supposed to refrain from lifting, bending, or over exertion of any kind. I learned to cook and keep house by 'touch' and I spent long hours knitting a sweater by 'feel' while listening to audio books.
Thankfully, I slowly recovered my sight after the second surgery, but I was not able to go back to work that school year. For some reason, that experience changed my view of writing. I did not write during that time, even during recovery, since it was too painful and too difficult. Later that summer, however, I decided to pursue my goal of publication with a giant blitz. I was 'going for it' with everything I had.
I sent about about 30 queries for each of the four books I had completed - that's 120 queries in all. We were in the process of moving at the time, too, so I went to the library everyday for a week and researched agents and publishers, while using their printer and photocopier for a fee. It ended up costing about $450 in photocopy fees and postage, but I was determined to see results.
WIND OVER MARSHDALE. I have also since found publishers for five of my stage plays.
I am still pursuing my dream of being an author. Although I have had some nominal success, I'm certainly not able to support myself financially through writing. For practical purposes, it is still within the 'hobby' category although I spend enough hours at it to warrant it 'second job' status. As well, gone are the days of lazily writing for pleasure in the summers only. I spend hours each day marketing and promoting my work, while juggling my full time 'other' job. In many ways I feel as if the pursuit is more intense than ever.
Does this mean I'm ready to stop? To say, "You've reached your goal of getting published so now you can relax." Not on your life. Getting those first stories out on paper has just fueled my desire to write more. There's lots more where that came from, I'm afraid. I have a feeling this is one race that won't end anytime soon.
This has been my contribution to the CW Blog Chain. For more writing on this topic, visit the 'CW Blog Chain' page at the top of this screen.