While 104 mile-per-hour winds rattled and ripped apart our roof and rain swirled and surged into our dining room, we slept soundlessly on the brass bed of a relative’s home. Hurricane Ike was assaulting the shores of Southeast Texas, and we, like many Houston area residents, didn’t hang around to eyewitness the destruction or experience the weeks-long power outage afterward. Having stuffed enough clothes and toiletries for a week as well as some precious mementos and important paperwork into our compact car, our family had evacuated to San Antonio.
With a suddenly open schedule and open laptop before me, I decided to start writing a novel. I had written in the past – songs, poetry, newsletter articles, a novel chapter or two. I was likely embarking upon another hopeful but fruitless attempt. I began Chapter 1. Then I wrote a plot line. Next, I wrote Chapter 2. Hey, this was actually going well!
Fast forward to a return trip to our home halfway between Houston and Galveston, the discovery of a huge hole in our roof, and the kids’ return to school. In between the many insurance-related phone calls, I committed to write for at least an hour a day. As I wrote, everything around me blurred into a fog and evaporated. I soon realized that I could sit at my laptop for 3-5 hours at a time, delving into characters and weaving the plot for my mystery novel.
At some point, I emerged from my bedroom to announce that I had 50 pages, and my adolescent son said, “Way to go, Mom!” Then I had 100 pages, then 150, and so on, until my 250(ish)-page first draft was complete. It took months of writing and editing to get a final product, but eventually a manuscript was birthed.
Now I could say with confidence: I am a writer. An author. A novelist.
It’s April 2011, and I am not a published novelist (but will be!). Yet I have begun other projects – a juvenile fiction book and a couple of young adult novels. After schlepping around the house with my laptop for months – from study desk to bed to living room couch to bedroom desk and back – I finally took a section of our guest bedroom and created my own writing nook.
Looking for inspiration from authors, I found Virginia Woolf’s famous quote: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” How true! Thanks to my hard-working husband, the finances are taken care of, and now I have that room of my own.
But of course, that’s only the beginning. You also must have ideas, time, commitment, a working computer, perseverance, a willingness to edit with a machete at times and a scalpel at others, and the notion that someday, somehow, somewhere, someone will read what you have written . . . and like it.
A Round of Words in 80 Days Update: 5,354 words last week; two blog posts; starting my first middle-grade novel edit this week.