It's Never Too Late - On Becoming a New Author
NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 2015. Re-published in Jan 2017 to resolve text viewability issues. Blog content is unchanged from 2015.
In 2008, I 'met' a woman in a fan chat group who had just written and published a novel. She was an ordinary person with a quite normal career (I think she was a nurse) and she had written and published a novel! How cool was that? I let that little bit of information sit in the back of my mind and germinate for a while. If she could do it, why not me? Of course I didn't have a clue how to write a novel, let alone how to get it published, but it brought me full circle to my original life plan. I had survived an angst-filled adolescence by writing poetry and short stories. I even edited my small high school's newspaper. It was a very small school, and the newspaper was close to a one-woman show, but it was my first foray into journalism, and I enjoyed having a platform. I envisioned a future as a journalist and writer.
Alas, as with many of our youthful plans, life's adjustments got in the way. In my case, it was a work schedule that prevented me--an English major--from taking English classes my Freshman year in college. I discovered Sociology, changed my major, and 3 years later was left wondering what I was going to do with my life. Looking back from the perspective of a completed career, it all worked out pretty well. I'm a hard worker, and when I was given an opportunity for an entry-level position in the field of contract management, I put my shoulder to the plow and dug some pretty darn good furrows. I retired as Director of Contracts for a defense electronics company. Not so bad, I think, but not the creative field I had imagined.
While I was building my career, I forgot about writing novels. There was no place for flights of fancy or creative story-lines in my world. Instead, my writing focused on succinct, well-organized compilations of factual information. I was, however, still an avid reader. My childhood passion for good story-telling never waned, and when I reached a point in my career where the challenges were few and far between, I remembered my original life plan. Was it too late? Could I still do it?
No one would ever accuse me of being spontaneous. I took the same approach to writing that I took with all the other choices and challenges in my life--research through reading. Initially, I bought 'how-to' books, like "How to Write and Sell Your First Novel" and "How to Write a Damn Good Novel". I started putting words to paper and struggled with the concept of 'showing' versus 'telling'. I marveled at the idea that someone could actually write something that was more than 20,000 words. How do you do that?
My first attempt at a novel was about 80,000 words. My second was 150,000. Neither of those books have yet been published. They still need a bit of work, but I have hopes for them. When I made the decision to self-publish SECOND CHANCES (that decision deserves a separate blog), I was terrified. Was it good enough? What if no one likes it? Will I just embarrass myself?
I have learned some things. It will never be good enough. The editing will never stop unless one day you say: enough. It is an imperfect creation, a humbling process, and a leap of faith.
It's been an exciting time taking the path planned for my younger self. Perhaps it was meant to be that my muse slumbered while I gathered life experiences to enrich my characters. More importantly, perhaps my story can inspire others to follow their own long buried dreams.