Monday, March 5, 2012

Turning Pro

Back in the late 80’s, a friend lent me a novel.  She said it reminded her of me.  Flattered by that comment, I read it that weekend. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Up to then, I’d read only the latest “serious” book club selections, and this was my first ever, light romance.

But, I was offended that my friend saw me as the protagonist – a plump, haggard, divorcée, raising three kids on her own. (Where did she get that idea?)

I didn’t know whether to thank her for introducing me to something new or ban her from my Christmas list.

She kept feeding me more romance novels on a steady basis, so I soon forgave her.  Somewhere in there, I had the epiphany all English Majors have at least once in their lifetime - I could do this.  I could write a novel.  How hard could this be? (Hint: Notice the date of said epiphany.)

Cut to present time.

I have written several things over the last three decades, some for a by-line, some for money, and some simply for the glory of vying for a contest title; but the novel has evaded me. I have a two-drawer file cabinet filled with copies of past attempts as testimony.  The only person to have read them is me – and with good reason.

Two years ago, I eased into the task again.  First, I wrote several children stories and took a deep breath.  Then I attempted a collection of short stories that was a bit longer in length.  Finally, I plunged into a novel of 70,000 words.   

Here I sit, two cases (yes, cases!) of paper later.  Only God and my angels know how many ink cartridges, pens, and notebook paper it’s consumed.  My “simple, little” woman’s novel is almost done for the (I am not exaggerating) sixteenth time. 

So when someone says they are “writing a novel,” don’t believe them until you actually see it in print.  One, it’s not as easy as it looks. Two, it’s just a hobby until it’s published.

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