Five years ago I graduated university (as a mature student) with a Bachelor’s Degree in General Arts. I was five months pregnant, it was the middle of winter, and my city was mired in a transit strike. Stuck at home, I needed something to fill my time. So I decided to write a book.
I made pretty good progress, for a while, but then I had the baby and chaos ensued. I hardly had time to read, let alone write. I put the book away.
Fast forward two years, I gave birth to twins (for those of you keeping score, that was three kids under the age of two) and more chaos ensued. Fortunately, my amazing mother-in-law started taking all three kids a couple of mornings a week to save my sanity. But instead of resting, I frittered away my time doing laundry, showering, and basically taking care of all the other chores I couldn’t get done with three screaming babies. I told my husband I needed something constructive, but fun, to do with my time. His response? “Didn’t you start writing a book a few years ago?”
Writing saved me. I was so much happier on days that I got to write. And on days that I didn’t, even the most mundane chores (like washing bottles – ugh!) weren’t so bad, because I was plotting the book while I did them. When I finished, I knew I had to try and get it published.
I had no idea what I was doing. My first few query letters pretty much said, “Here’s my story, I hope you like it.” Even worse, I had no idea how long a Middle Grade book should be (mine was clocking in around 85,000 words – yikes!). I got a bunch of rejections.
I started writing the sequel (I’d planned out a trilogy), but my mother-in-law had started a new job, and I wasn’t getting solid chunks of time any more, and most of my time was going into researching and querying agents, reading blogs, and generally stumbling my way through the whole what-happens-after-you-write-a-book process. With the exception of some PBs for my daughter, I stopped writing.
At the end of October 2012, I heard about National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo – I’m still trying to figure out how to do links, so I’ll just wait while you go Google it). Basically in November people convene online and try to write 50,000 words in a month. I knew there was no way I could write 50,000 words in a month, but I figured hey, even if I wrote 10,000, that was 10,000 more words than I had at the start of the month.
I wrote like crazy.
And on November 30th I had 50,000 words. Good words. Of a story I was in love with.
So I trunked my first novel, found myself some critique groups (one online, one in person), and revised away. I started querying in June 2013. I’ve made two major revisions since then, and am hard at work on my third (to be finished any day now). This latest version is so good it’s made me giddy.
I’ve continued to write PBs for my daughter, and have two finished, query-ready stories, plus a handful of drafts.
And now I’m starting a blog, to chronicle what comes next. I’m aiming to post once a week, on Thursdays (partly because that’s when some of the other blogs I follow are dark, and partly because that’s the day I started this. Yes, I know it’s Friday today, give me a break, I have three kids under the age of five.) If I can, I’ll try and add bonus posts, but for now, I have to ration my time between blogging, revising, querying, and writing – so I’m going for quality over quantity.
Tune in next Thursday to find out the answer to the first question everyone always asks me when they find out I’m a writer: Where do you find the time?