Monday, August 20, 2012

A Good Example

Logan & Lily with my mom, April 2012

 If it's one lesson my mother never failed to bestow upon me, it is to always go after what you love. A dream may be impossible, but how will you know if you don't even try? Her story is one that has empowered and motivated me my entire life. She decided in her 30s that being a nurse wasn't enough. So even though everyone (including her own relatives) told her she was crazy, she went back to medical school to become a doctor. That's amazing enough on its own. But she also did it as a single mom with two girls who received no child (or any other) support from my father. She took care of us, helped take care of her own ailing mother, worked the night shift as an E.R. nurse in multiple hospitals, drove us to dance classes, helped with class projects and was always there for us... all while hitting the books as a full-time med student. She graduated years later, number four in her class and the only female in the top ten. 
To this day when I'm feeling completely overwhelmed I stop and think about my mom. If she could do all of that, I could conquer my own stressful day. I want my own children to be proud of my accomplishments. I don't just want to tell them to follow their dreams, I want to show them. I'm proud of myself for writing a novel. It's something that I've wanted to accomplish for multiple decades now. But editing will be hard work. I'm already realizing just how hard as I reread my earlier chapters. And though I daydream about seeing my book on an actual shelf in an actual bookstore, the known reality is that it more than likely won't happen. I'm very much aware of that. However I'll just pick up the pieces and start again.
After all, this book was always my 'practice piece'. The story of my mom--my tribute to her--is the one that I hold most dear to me. It is the story that I've wanted to write for years. If this first book doesn't work out, I have faith the next one will. And it will be another lesson for my kids to see: If you fail, just get back up and try again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Changing Lanes

I finished the first draft today. Three hundred and fifty eight pages of words all carefully (and sometimes carelessly) crafted be me. It's an incredible feeling to know that I've actually written a novel. However I'm still so unsure of whether it's any good or not that I won't actually celebrate my achievement until I sit down next week to read it from start to finish.

In the beginning, I'd stop to reread my chapters every so often. But once I'd passed the 200-page mark I stopped going back and only went forward. I settled into a new habit of only reading several pages before the point I'd left off before starting up again. Was this the right thing to do? I have no clue. My worry is that my novel is completely fractured, which constantly changing tones. I'll find out on Monday when I start from page one and read the entire manuscript for the first time. After that I have to change lanes and switch from writing mode to editing mode. Part of me thinks it will be a complete overhaul, but maybe it's just the doubt talking.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Finish Line

I can see it. After three years of writing my first novel is less than 30 pages from completion. There were lots stops and starts. Months when I didn't write a single word of it. Life was full of freelance writing assignments, household stuff, caring for the kids, and of course the more devilish distractions: Websites, television, and stacks upon stacks of books.
Of course I still have to edit it, and edit it again, and then probably edit it once more. I have to write a synopsis and a query letter. I need to have someone else edit it. Then maybe get second and third opinions. I need to find an agent who will have me.  And I need to wish on every star I see that I'll be lucky enough to actually get the damn thing published. Because I know luck probably has more to do with it than talent. If that doesn't work, I'll publish it myself. Then I'll start the entire process again with my second novel.
I took this photo this morning on my crappy, out-of-date phone midway through my early morning run. There was fog on the field and the air was so heavy with humidity, it made it hard to breathe. I circled the track again and again, not really getting anywhere but feeling like I was accomplishing it all.
And that's exactly how I feel about this novel. It's nothing and it's everything. It has taken me to a whole new place... even if I never actually get anywhere with it.