For the first dance here at the Deb Ball, we’ve been talking THE BOOK. The big kaboom of inspiration that ultimately led to a book deal. So here’s my story. Writing this debut changed me forever.
It all began when I was expecting baby number two. My plate was full and the wonderful job I had loved so much began to feel like a shoe that’s too tight. All of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to be home with my babies, YES, but I also felt a soulful stirring. What was I doing with my life? Did it fulfill my dreams? Strangely enough, at that time I didn’t know what my dreams were, I just knew that my stint as a high school teacher had run its course. That if I spent one more day doing it, something inside of me would dry up and wither away.
So I resigned. I started doing odd jobs—tutoring, coaching, test proctoring—anything flexible that would help pay the bills and still allow me to be home with the kids. But I was BORED and I began to question my decision. Should I have given up a sure thing—something I knew I liked—for a big fat unknown? Who was I anyway? I had forgotten.
For a year I tarried over the next season of my life.
But then something miraculous happened.
I HAD A DREAM! I dreamed I was writing at a desk, and the dream flowed to Paris then Versailles, and a swirl of images floated through my head. When I awoke, the last vision I remembered as the fog of sleep faded was of Josephine Bonaparte.
Now, mind you, I knew a fair amount about the French Revolution, having taught about it. I’d been to Versailles and seen David’s painting of Napoleon crowning his empress, but that was the ONLY image I had ever seen of Josephine and the ONLY thing I knew about her. But that simple dream set my mind to whirring. I went to the library and checked out a single biography about Josephine. I devoured the tropical sensuality of Martinique, the shimmering ball gowns at the French Court, the horror of war among brothers, and Josephine’s long string of lovers, her failings and her triumphs. In short, I fell madly in love with her fascinating, awe-inspiring life.
And one night, as I finished my third biography, I turned to my husband in bed and said, “I’m going to write a book.”
He smiled in that supportive yet doubtful way and said, “Okay, honey. Go for it.”
And just like that, my life changed. I pored over every resource I could find. I spent months and months learning about publishing, going to conferences, meeting writers, learning the game. As I slaved over my pages, my love for writing deepened. Exhilarating, fulfilling, exhausting, excruciating moments came one after the other. It was all there—that intensity you feel when you REALLY connect to something great. This world of creating, sharing, inspiring. This world of writing.
There was no going back.
I had always been a writer. Deep down the dream of being a writer had been lying dormant. Short stories as a child, advancing to the state level in essay contests in high school, copy editing my college newspaper, and my relentless obsession with books…all along it had been there. So as my trajectory shifted, and MY DREAM bubbled to the surface, it consumed me. I longed to see my books in print, to inspire people with stories of the remarkable human spirit, of survival, of MAKING OUR LIVES COUNT, and always, of good ol’ fashioned fun.
So now I thank Josephine for so many reasons. For her amazing and incredible life, for her whispering inspiration in my ear that fateful night, and most of all, for helping me live out my dreams.
How about you, writers? How do you find inspiration for your books?
Readers, what inspires you most in a novel you love?