A Life Long Dream

The year was 1984. I was transitioning into the 8th grade. My life was chaotic because both parents were chronically ill and my mother was schizophrenic. The summer before my 7th grade year, I’d twisted my ankle really bad and spent most of summer vacation recuperating. No biking or skating or anything really. When I got bored, which took all of five seconds, I was given a book.

I had slogged through an adult novel once before. One of Andre Norton’s. It took two years for me to finish it. I was in the 4th grade when I started it. To say I wasn’t much of a reader would be honest. I was a anomaly in a family of devoted readers but that all changed that one summer. I pulled a book out of the stack my mother brought home and my life was altered forever.

Patricia C. Wrede’s Daughter of Witches was the book I chose that summer and I must have read that book 30 times that summer. I even got brave enough to write the author and got a reply back! Ms. Wrede’s encouragement to a young person was so wonderful and created an enthusiastic desire in me to write.

My life was so chaotic then. Family violence was a topic no one discussed in the 1980s. I adapted and learned and all the feelings and issues I was working through, not knowing how else to work through other than funneling them into my writing. I wrote all the years I took care of my mother who needed long term care and supervision and medication assistance. Now, the 1980s are a distant memory and I’ve published my first novel. I don’t know if anyone else will see Joanna: A King’s Failure in the same way I did, having written it while caregiving. But just holding a copy of my own book, a piece of my own therapy, is a testament to how far I’ve come.

 

Writing

I’ve been writing off and on since I was in 7th grade. I really got serious about it in 1999 when I finally finished a book. Yay!

It was awful!

I know you’ll say that I’m my own harshest critic but I’ve still got the original manuscript and it is quite literally rubbish.

The hardest part of writing is to get it all finished, to actually write a book with a beginning, middle and end then have it end! It’s hard to see it through to the very last page. It can be utterly exhausting to get it all down on paper but I’ve made a pattern I can follow now and I use it to create other books. The goal of writing is to get it all down and then to start editing it, changing this part or that part, making sure all the verb tenses are correct and that words are spelled correctly. I still have that book I wrote in 1999 in it’s original content and I have what it became after several years of editing. The two look nothing alike except for the characters’ names. Editing is supposed to be horrible but I found it to be so much fun. I enjoyed playing with the characters and trying new ways to make the dialog and the story interesting.

I’m looking into self-publication and what that might mean. I need to get some legal advice and ask questions and do some research but next year could be the year. With that said, I must say that writing was the most exciting, exhausting and liberating thing I’d ever done.

When I started caring for my mother and having flashbacks of what it was like being raised by a woman with full blown schizophrenia, I had no where to put all my feelings and those terrible memories I’d worked so hard to forget before they came back at the worst possible time. Writing gave me that outlet. It wasn’t like a diary nor was it a memoir. Instead it was a way to make use of those things, to put what I was feeling into words on a computer screen and make them behave. That’s the hardest part, making the characters behave. They often go off and do things I never, as the writer, wanted them to do! Then I have to find out how they’re going to get themselves out of that. But, I also confess to going back and rereading books I’ve written when I’m feeling down or sad. Oddly enough, I don’t remember what I was feeling when I wrote them. All I have left are the characters and the choices they made.

I grew up on print media. Holding a book in my hands is how I was raised. I’m hip though and I love Kindle and digital is the wave of the future. I’m not sure how I’ll feel when my book is finally published and ready for people to read and critique. I’m not as attached to that first book as I was so many years ago when it was like something sacred I gave birth to. Now it’s just a book, taking up space on my hard drive. But going into print could change that.

I may never see my  book in print, not in the traditional way. Handheld books are quickly becoming a thing of the past. I’ve recently delved into Audible and discovered I really like it. I can read and crochet at the same time! But having my book out there will be an experience and, whatever happens, my life will never be the same.

I’ll have to dream new dreams once I get my first book published.