My Writing Begins
It was quite easy to divide my life into acts as Joanne Guidoccio requested for her blog. As far as my writing went, there were distinct time periods which contributed to my ability to write a decent yarn. The final of these 3 acts actually explains finding the courage to pursue my long held dream of writing a book.
What I consider to be my Act Three began some years and two more children later. My eldest, then at university, regularly informed me I was allowing my brain to stagnate and knowing of my interest, kept suggesting I attend creative writing classes. I baulked at these, believing, rightly or wrongly, they were geared toward literary works rather than the writing of popular fiction. I knew where my interest lay, not only with popular fiction, but even more clearly defined, contemporary romance.
My husband was attached to the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC for two years and it was during this period I spied an evening course at the local college. “How to write a romance” sounded perfect and was exactly what I wanted to do. Then began the rigmarole of trying to get enrolled – living in the US without benefit of a social security number caused us so many hassles during our two years, and I feared this would be something else which would prove to be just too difficult. Thankfully this wasn’t one of those times and I began my writing journey with very small, faltering steps.
The instructor, Ellicott City based Harlequin writer Loree Lough, was marvellous and became more than a mentor to me. We are still in touch, although not so often now as during my first stumbling years toward publication. During the ten (I think) week course, Loree continued to share her expertise and offered to read work any of the students had completed. My idea of a New Zealand woman visiting Maryland quickly developed into a story which I wrote diligently throughout the period of the course, but the nerve to ask Loree to read it kept deserting me. Finally, on the last night I realised if I didn’t ask her then, I would likely never see her again, never have such an opportunity to have a professional give an opinion of my writing, and so yep, I hung around until everyone else had left and quaking in my boots, approached this multi-published writer to ask her to read my completed manuscript.
I grasped at her willingness to read the 85,000 word story, agreeing she could do anything, suggest anything, say anything in response and I would be so grateful. About a week later I got a phone call and went around to her house so she could return my “baby” to me. My heart sank. The pages were splashed with red scrawled symbols and crossed out portions. She had not just read it and been willing to give an opinion, she had edited the whole story. So we sat in her dining room and Loree went through the whole manuscript with me. She queried passages, pointed out the things I’d done wrong, made suggestions to tighten scenes. She spent ages encouraging me, then assured me this story would find a publisher. Those words stayed with me all the years it took to get numerous proposals, partials and full manuscripts snail mailed around the world once I returned home to New Zealand. I figured Loree knew so much about writing romance, and if she thought “Worlds Apart” was good enough to be published, I was going to continue believing her. “Worlds Apart” did finally get published by The Wild Rose Press in 2009 and was dedicated to Loree Lough.
Since then I’ve been writing “full time”. I’ve been fortunate to have a very supportive husband who accepted if he got home and found dinner not ready or the house less than tidy, then I had had a good writing day. My confidence and expertise continues to grow as I attend conference/workshops, along with the ready advice from an excellent editor who has become more of a friend. I keep writing because I cannot imagine not sharing the stories clamouring around inside my head. I’ve been fortunate to have had five books published by The Wild Rose Press and look forward to continuing my association with this amazing company. When I’m not writing or reading, or travelling the world with my recently retired husband, I enjoy spending time with my family, my friends from the Navalwomen’s Association or sorting through my years of genealogy notes. One day, if writing romance ever palls maybe I’ll collate all my family history notes into something readable for those who follow me.
I hope you’ve enjoyed and taken some encouragement from my journey. If you are hankering to do some serious writing of your own, stick to your guns, write a lot, attend whatever classes and conferences you’re able to, and mostly, believe in yourself.