Friday, May 27, 2011
Up, Up and Away!
Setting aside such issues as time and privacy to write, I also didn't have the money for such essentials as paper, typewriter ribbons and postage. So the dream waited on the back burner while I dealt with life.
Time passed. My twenties turned into my thirties. We moved two thousand miles to the other side of the country and were poorer for it. I worked nights in a warehouse so the family could eat. We acquired a Commodore computer and I learned how to use DOS so I could write during the day.
In my late thirties, the warehouse shut down and moved to Tennessee, leaving me unemployed. Instead, I went to school to learn how to be an Administrative Assistant and I found a new job. Went back to college. And struggled to rear four teenagers while the house hunk worked six hours away, only making it home every three or four weekends.
And I scribbled in between work, job, and full-time school, finally graduating in my forties. By then, some of my children were adults. One married and had a child...and promptly moved back home. And life went on.
When I reached my fifties, I had a house full of children, grandchildren, dogs, cats...well, certainly no quiet there. And not much money. You might say I was just too darn tired to write.
And then the house hunk was transferred again--just after we paid off our mortgage. We moved to a new state as empty nesters and tried to adjust. For six months I tried to figure out what I was supposed to be doing with all my free time. At my son's suggestion (actually it was more of a plea) I sat down at my brand new computer and began to write the story that had rumbled around in my head for thirty years.
When I finished, it was two hundred thousand plus words. I loved it. That's when I discovered it was about a hundred and fifty thousand words too long. And after reading the submission guidelines for several small publishers, several big publishers, several medium publishers, I discovered my story had a bunch of other issues.
The internet was fairly new, but I researched, oh yes, I did. I spent hours analyzing what I needed to do to prepare my fabulous book for submission. I spent more weeks and months, cannibalizing my book to produce a story that would meet the guidelines.
I didn't know any other writers. I didn't actually know anyone who read. But I read articles about writing and re-did my story until I couldn't think of anything else to do to it.
Then came the day when I decided I wasn't getting any younger and I submitted it to a publisher. I researched my best options, settled on an e-publisher that was the top of the heap, and blithely sent my story off. One author asked why I sent it to the publisher with the toughest guidelines. In my naivete, I thought why not? Wasn't my story fabulous? Hadn't I been writing for thirty years?
So off it went.
About six weeks later, I received an e-mail asking me to send the complete manuscript. And about six weeks after that, I was offered a contract for Dancer's Delight. I was on my way to completing my dream.
As I look back on it now, I view my absolute self-confidence with disbelief. Perhaps that is what saved me that first year as a published author. The longer I am in this game, the less confidence I have. I'm more aware of my short-comings as a writer.
Yet, I wouldn't change anything. I still hone my writing skills, still work to improve my stories, still try to learn from every editing experience and every review. My dream isn't exactly how I thought it would be. Publishing has changed so radically, I suspect that dream is long dead and gone.
Readers, real people, total strangers buy my books and read them. And they write letters to me. Me! I still find that amazing! As I work on book twenty one, I shake my head. My dream came true.
I took the long way around, but I made it.