Seven years ago I sat down and wrote the ending of a real-life story. It was dramatic, heartbreaking – and exhilarating. It was an ending and the beginning of everything.
I put the story away. A year passed. I had my fourth child. The story kept coming and I knew – I was going to write a book.
I didn’t know the first thing about writing a book, but Stephenie Meyer had done it; had a dream about vampires and then wrote a bestseller while her children frolicked at swimming lessons. It emboldened me: mothers could be “real writers!”
For three months after baby was born, I wrote every nap time, evening, and early morning I could. I finished my masterpiece. The next step according to Meyer, was to find an agent. But first – I had to know if it was any good. I gave it to two amazing writers to read and critique. I wanted the truth. If they said it was terrible, then I’d forget about such a silly dream. Little did they know how much power they held in their hands.
A few days later, my manuscript was handed back. There were three words at the top of the very last page: “This is wonderful.”
The other person looked at me with tears in her eyes. “You have done it,” she said.
Granted, this was my mother-in-law and my mother. But whatever, I went with it.
That was seven long years in Tibet. I mean, seven long years ago.
My experience was not exactly like Ms. Meyer’s. It’s been said that getting an agent is as likely as riding bareback on a great white across the Pacific.
Rejection is frustrating and feels soul crushing. But I also feel lucky to have found something I want to do for the rest of my life: write.
Julia invited me to share my writing process with you this week. Funnily enough, she too was inspired by Stephenie Meyer and is now in the querying stage with her first novel (aka riding bareback on a great white.) We wish her luck!!!
So here we go…
What am I working on?
After I began querying my first novel (women’s fiction,) I was antsy to write something else. I’m now querying a second novel I wrote after being inspired by a real-life love story. It’s told from the fictional perspective of a 10-year-old whip smart girl who sets off to find a missing farmer, prove Gaysie Cutter’s guilt, and bring her damaged mother home.
Now I’ve totally switched genres and started writing a children’s book about a very respectable and dignified nanny who is trying to civilize six unruly children. This proves to be extremely difficult for the nanny (since he’s the pet dog.)
I’m always writing a blog post or querying a magazine or pitching a story on-line, but I know I need to focus more and stop spreading myself so thin. But it’s hard for me to focus because I want to write everything!
Why do I write what I do?
I am inspired by real-life and emotional events that make me want to laugh, cry, or run like Tom Cruise in any of his movies since 1980. My first two novels were completely based off real life. Characters are based off people I know and then spiral into their own. I’m an optimistic person, but my stories often hinge on sadness. I’m very much rooted in contemporary and realistic fiction. There is no sci-fi in me. Not at all.
How does my writing process work?
Hahaha! It’s always changing and I’m constantly trying to be more efficient. I used to just sit down and write it all down and then come back to sort out the mess later. Now I outline a lot more. For blog posts I like to tell stories by pictures.
For articles I’ve learned to write the title and bullet points first. For my latest novel, I focused on the chapters I wanted to write, who the characters were, and what the big quest was. Larry Brooks and Storyfix changed the way I see novel structure. I try to write in three stages after the outline is done. The first draft is fast and furious. Second draft is getting rid of terrible first draft and is much slower, getting all the details right. Third draft is refining the language. Then, it gets sent to my wonderful first readers (Lisa, my sister, my mom, and Kate) who tell me what’s up.
I’m still pretty new at this though; I had no idea what I was doing the first two novels.
I carry around a notebook to write down thoughts but have been known to record details on receipts (my paper system drives my husband crazy). I have an iphone but putting pen to paper solidifies a lot in my scattered head. I’m getting better at streamlining and have recently begun using The Notecard System for future projects. I’m considering Scrivener.
My writing process completely changed when all of my children were in school full-time. It’s amazing how much work there is still to do, but my goal is to hit 500 words every morning. The results have been tremendous.
I’m starting to think about self-publishing. I’m tired of the No’s. But I’m taking baby steps because I’m very scared of not having a traditional publisher to validate me.
So there you go! Thank you, Julia, for inviting me to talk all about myself 🙂
I wanted to also introduce you to other mothers who are not only amazing moms, but who are also flinging their writing to the world. They inspire me so much. Go ahead and check them out – you might just be inspired to write your own story…
Julia is a mom of four and writes middle grade and children’s.
Melissa is a new mom to baby O. She’s juggling the newborn phase.
Kate was my first real critique partner. She kept me going in the early days.
Lisa is juggling four, and is one of the most creative people I know.
Nina started out writing novels, but discovered she like blogging more.
Sarah writes a personal blog that makes me laugh bc she has such a good attitude, and her kids are adorable and mischievous in the best way!
All women being creative. I love it.
And now…drumroll…tomorrow is going to be fantastic as I’ve interviewed two published authors who are also mothers. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button on the right hand side just to make sure you don’t miss it!
See you tomorrow. I can’t wait.