Friday, May 27, 2011

Up, Up and Away!

Some dreams require compromise. Or taking an alternate route. Many years ago when I was in my twenties, I wanted to be a writer. At the time I had four children, worked nights at McDonalds, went to school full-time, and was stone cold broke.

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.



  1. I'm really glad you hung in there and made it. Life does take its own course, huh?

  2. Persistence paid off:) Good for you!

    I used to write during my spare time in college, and on breaks when I began working. And then the two hour nap time when the kids were little.

    Proof that if you have a dream, ultimately you WILL achieve it:)

  3. The scenic route. Always unexpected, usually rewarding. Well done you for hanging in there!

  4. "The longer I'm in the game" the more suspicous I become of those who run it and the more confident I am of taking my own bat and ball and starting my own game.

  5. And now you know LOTS of other writers. And know we're all slightly insane...

  6. I'm so glad you never gave up on your dream. :)