Today is my first post as a 2015 Deb and I’m a bundle of nervous excitement. Sure, it’s also back to school for the mini (who is starting grade one and handling it much better than I am), and I have some fairly prickly deadlines looming, which explain the nerves. But I’m also psyched I’m part of this amazing group of debut writers for the next year!
I’ve talked about this before, but I never set out to be a writer. Even in journalism school, whenever someone asked, “So I guess you want to write?” I’d secretly roll my eyes and patiently explain that no, not everyone with a j-school degree wants to write. I was going into television. Writing wasn’t my thing.
But on the last day of school I got the shock of my life – a cancer diagnosis. The life I had planned evaporated, and I had to sort out what my new normal looked like. A year or so after treatment ended (I’m now 11 years cancer free), an idea just popped into my mind. An idea for a novel. So I wrote one chapter. Then another. But still, I insisted I wasn’t a writer. I was simply writing.
That book took me six years to write, during which time I got married, became a mother, and quit my day job to be a stay at home mom and part-time freelance writer (never say never…). When I wrote that book I had no idea what I was doing. Tension? Characterization? Dialogue tags? Query letters? Needless to say, that book now lives on the shelf where many first books go to retire (die). But without the experience of writing and querying that first book, my second attempt wouldn’t have been what it was: a book that got me my agent and came pretty darn close to snagging me a book deal.
While I was agent hunting for that second book, I started my third book. The idea for it came at my uncle’s funeral, where I had a conversation with my cousin about bucket lists and honoring those we love. I muddled it around for a bit, as I usually do, trying to see if it had legs. Then on date night with the husband, over grilled cheese and a flight of craft beer, we worked out story details and he came up with a twist that gave me butterflies. The next day I started writing.
My first draft of Come Away with Me took four months to write. By the time book two was on submission, I had written enough of book three for my agent to give a teaser pitch to editors. And one editor, who took book two to acquisitions but ultimately had to pass, remembered that pitch and asked to see it. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Seeing my book on a shelf is going to represent so many things for me, but mostly that a (giant) goal I set years ago has been achieved. And also, I suppose, that I really am a writer. No turning back now…