I wanted to write a novel. It’s been on my Life Goals list since I was about 14 and started making Life Goal lists. Last year the time was right to make a proper effort. I had a basic idea for a dystopian story set in a school that is a sinister microcosm of society. I had character names, ideas for plot developments, twists, obstacles etcetera but I knew I was not ready to write it. I mean, I’d never written a novel before. My notebooks were filling with tidbits and treasures but I didn’t want to stuff it all up by writing a piece of diatribe-laced dribble. So what to do?
I would write a practice novel. One that would teach me about the writing process. I knew some basic creative writing fundamentals as outlined annually by The English Teacher (see post) however knowing them did not automatically translate into any said literary skill.
A few random sections of text were written. A few joining bits were added and by about chapter nine, I had discovered the characters’ names. I also learnt that the storyline I had imagined was not as simple as I thought it was going to be.
Before I was aware of what was happening I had completely and utterly fallen in love with writing. Losing myself in the writing process was exhilarating and totally unexpected. Several times I stumbled out from my writing cave to exclaim to the hubby, ‘I can’t believe what just happened in my story!’ Cue blank look from hubby followed by reassurances from me that, yes, I was the one actually writing this tale. The story took on a life of its own – I found myself discovering it as it emerged on the page. This probably breaks numerous rules about writing and planning. Indeed The English Teacher constantly badgers the class with the adage, ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. Shhh, *whispers* don’t tell the kiddlets!
During the initial drafting process I didn’t want to share with many people that I was writing a novel or that I was writing a novel for teenagers. I became shy and nervous and when I did talk about it I tended to do it while staring intently at the ground with a slightly manic grin on my face.
Just over four and a bit months later, the first draft was done and the editing began. Six months later I entered Pitcharama 2014 hosted by the wonderful team at Aussie Owned and Read and was privileged to be selected for the first round. The editor round blew my expectations so far out of the water that I walked around in a daze for ten minutes contemplating whether or not I was hallucinating the responses. Once the daze wore off the excitement began. The excitement of a child who has consumed copious amounts of chocolate and red candy. I could not sit still to focus on my computer screen.
The adrenaline buzz was overwhelming. Forget jumping out of a plane, give me some minor interest from a publishing company and I become invincible. Thankfully the universe centred me quickly. A sharp whack to the knee (that may or may not have involved an incident with a skateboard *cough*) was my reminder to settle down, breathe and put all this in perspective. Yes, I’d had interest and some ms requests but that was only one small step on a long journey to publication. I limped back to my desk and calmly set about sending some emails.
So where am I now with this journey? I am waiting. I have a feeling that this is a big part of the process. I’ve learnt about rejection and how I deal with it. I’ve learnt to expect it but also to hope for the best. I will continue to wait as patiently as I can while learning more about writing.
It’s hard to believe it has only been a year since I first sat down to write. Now, I’m writing my second novel, I have a blog and have even joined twitter. Best of all, I learnt something wonderful: writing thrills me. It tells me I am alive and that within the words on my page, anything is possible. In a world that constantly feels out of my grasp, here is somewhere I have control. Somewhere I am completely happy.