As I said in an earlier post, I’m telling my writing journey in parts. If you missed part I, click here. And now with part II:
Jan 19, 2009. The day I wrote my first sentence. (Strangely, I’ve always remembered that date). We had finished two rounds of chemo treatments with our son, and like I said, reading wasn’t enough anymore. It couldn’t transport me—not with the stress. I needed a challenge. Something that could distract me from real life.
So I thought, “I can write a book. If reading won’t give me what I need, maybe I can create it.”
So I wrote. I dug deep into who I used to be as a child and tried to summon any kind of magic I still possessed and let it spill onto paper. And I thought I was pretty good. Thought. I joined an online critique group (on yahoo, I believe) and found out pretty quick I had A LOT to learn.
But I wasn’t afraid to ask for help. I remember one guy telling me I needed to learn how to “Show not tell.” I had no idea what that meant, so I Googled it. Yes, I Googled “Show not tell!”
And that’s when I met my first writing angel. For some unknown reason, brilliant author, Jason Matthews, decided to take me under his wing. He taught me how to write. Showed me the difference between passive and active voice, how to eliminate unnecessary words, make my writing as tight as possible. But at the same time, I immersed myself into any craft book I could find. I had purpose again, and I wanted to master this craft.
I put myself out there, continued to do the online critiquing, when I heard about an online community called inkpop. The idea of this site was to upload your work, people would then vote or “pick” your project, and if you made it into the top 5 by the end of the month, the prize was a review from a HarperCollins editor.
So on Jan 1, 2010, I submitted the first 10,000 words of my first novel. I didn’t expect what happened next. Within two weeks, my story rocketed past 30,000 projects and landed in the number one spot. The opportunity connected me to people I still consider my closest friends today.
That was when I knew I could do this. Er… when I had confidence and thought I could do this. Little did I know it was barely the beginning.
A few months later (I’m 28 at this point), I got pregnant with our 4th child. I still had only 10K written with my first novel and it stayed that way for the rest of the year. For some reason (I blame it on preggo craziness), my brain shut down completely for the next 9 months. I couldn’t write. But I could read again. I spent the whole pregnancy devouring books, this time with a different eye. I knew that for whatever reason the creative juices had left, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t still progress.
I continued to study, as well as find the magic again in reading.
It wasn’t two days after I had the baby that inspiration struck hard. I was ready to write again, and this time with a vengeance.
And this is where I’m sad to stop the story, because in the next segment, not only do I finish my first novel, query, and meet my agent for the first time, it’s also the darkest part of my journey.