Feeling elated all over again

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When I explain to people how it feels to write a book, I compare it to being pregnant and birthing a child without the physical pain.  I mean no disrespect to women who have given birth to a tiny human but the process is quite similar.  You spend months caring for and cultivating this remarkable thing you have created and once the process has come to its natural conclusion, you feel elated and you feel a sense of pride you never knew existed.  You spend so much time staring at it and are afraid to let anyone else touch it.  It never leaves your side.

But there comes a time when you have to learn to give up a little bit of the control.  Eventually you know you are going to have to let other people handle your baby and you are a nervous wreck when you finally make the decision to leave them with someone else.  Your gut churns as you wonder how other people are going to react and how they are going to treat your baby.

Until this week my baby had only been left with family. While there is still a sense of apprehension, one assumes that family will not come straight out and tell you that your child is terrible.  They may allude to the fact that there are some problems but any feedback could be slightly sugar-coated to preserve the emotional well-being of the parent.

I knew the day would come when I would have to hand my baby, my book, over to a person outside of my immediate family.  It honestly felt like I was dropping my child off at overnight camp for a week with no way to communicate with them.  I carved a path in my living room carpet as I paced the floor and, as the days went on, I began to get a feeling that I’m sure many parents feel.  If I have done the job I needed to do in the creation of this entity, I should have some faith that I did a good job.

Yesterday morning, I received a validation so positive it made me cry.  Her first two texts read, “Omgggggg, I am so hooked on your friggen book.  It’s like every second wondering if you can take it with you to read one more page.”

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Where the flame of my publishing dream was a mere flicker, it is now a roaring fire.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy some gasoline.

 

And just like that, it was out of my hands…..

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I saw the corners of his mouth turn into a smile as I handed it over.   One hundred and eighty-two pages of eight and a half by eleven paper covered by eighty-two thousand, six hundred and fifty words of a story I crafted were turned over to my fourteen year old nephew so he could be the first person, besides myself, to read the book in its entirety.

My nephew, like me, loves to read and even though his calendar age may prove that he is only fourteen, he reads far beyond his age.   I could think of nobody more suited for the role of first reader than him and I was happy to hand the pages over to him.

My dad was a voracious reader as well.  Although the premise of my story may not have been something my dad would have eagerly pulled from the book shelf, he would have been my biggest fan.  It is bitter-sweet knowing how proud he would have been of my accomplishment but knowing that I can never hear those words come from him.  I know he is up there somewhere giving me a thumbs up and doing his best to encourage a literary agent to take a chance on me.

As much as I sit here, nervously awaiting the outcome of the first read-through, I anxiously anticipate feedback on the story.  I’m sure Dean Koontz or Stephen King never batted a thousand on their first at-bats so I’m expecting to take many more swings before I knock it out of the park.  I just want to make sure I stay in the game!

You can’t win if you don’t play

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While this subject line generally makes me think of the lottery pool, it has taken on a much bigger meaning for me today.  I’m sure I have made you all painfully aware of the fact that I finally finished writing my first novel.  Book number two is in the works and the idea for number three is a shimmering light in the distance.

I thought that the actual writing of the book was going to be the hardest part.  And while it was a painstaking process, never having attempted to write a book before, the writing itself was a reward.  The hardest part is convincing yourself that someone else may find your words exciting enough to take you on as a client and help to get you published.

I spent my day off today, a beautiful, sunny day, bound to my couch to finish editing my book for grammatical oversights and story continuity.  I was just as excited to read the ending as if I were a first time reader and that got me even more excited.  I was excited enough to send my first two query emails to potential agents…..and now I feel nauseous.

But like that lottery pool, you can’t win if you don’t play.  I will never get published if I don’t try, and according to Yoda, there is no try, only do.  So I did.

Now I can only hope that some unsuspecting agent finds an email from a small town Canadian girl with big ideas and gets just as excited to read it as I was to write it.

The feeling came rushing back

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Last year, I made the courageous decision to let two of the guests at the lodge read the first three chapters of my novel.  It was a large hurdle for me to jump, to trust my writing enough let them read it and, as I sat waiting to hear back from them, I was concerned that their critique may destroy the hope I had for my book.  I was dead wrong and I wrote about it here.

That same couple checked back into the lodge yesterday for their annual “Shammy” vacation.  I was delighted to see them again and we embraced like we have known each other for decades.  We had been corresponding by email over the winter and they were two of the people at the top of my list to share my news once I had finished writing the book.

As she began to leaf through the 8 1/2 by 11 pages, I watched her brow furrow.  She agreed with the changes that I had made in red ink but I sensed there was an underlying urge in her to be wielding the same red pen she had used last year.  Instead, she set the pages down on her lap and seemed so overjoyed that I had finished my work in progress.  She was thrilled and her joy seeped into me.  I was elated.  The excitement I had felt after finishing the writing now came flooding back and the two of us acted like we had just won the lottery.

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I have been dutifully editing my novel for egregious grammatical oversights as well as making the story flow as well as it should so the reader is not lost at the beginning of any of the chapters.  I plan to spend all of my free time over the next week finishing the revisions and beginning the hunt for an agent.  Game on!

Time is running out

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I have been blessed over the last six months.  Not only have I been able to work full-time at a job I enjoy, I have been able to focus the substantial increase of my spare time into the things that I am truly passionate about.

I have always been a creative person.  As a child, arts and crafts were my go-to hobby and when I reached the age of eleven I was introduced to the art of writing.  My grade six teacher urged us to express ourselves in ways that I had never thought about and from that moment, I was hooked.  I began to write poetry and short stories.  I was so addicted to words that I got my library card and became a voracious reader.

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I was also introduced to cooking at an early age and, under the tutelage of my dad, learned to create meals that did not come from a recipe.  I learned to experiment with flavors and was able to create some impressive dinners with simple items found in any pantry.  And I made a point to commit his cooking faux pas to memory – NEVER make scrambled eggs with Egg Nog!

I have been able to take all of my spare moments over the last few months and really focus on the things I love – cooking and writing.  This past weekend, I added three thousand more words to my novel-in-progress and spent some time in my own kitchen creating some fantastic and creative soups for myself and my family.  The time is slowly running out for me to have the time to focus on the wants instead of the needs.  Soon the resort will be back in full swing and my spare time will be a dim memory of my past.

My email address is a glaring reminder of how I will spend my remaining days and nights before my world changes – “carpe diem – seize the day”.

Living a thousand lives

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“The man who reads lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen.  The man who never reads lives only one.”

 George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

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There is something divinely quieting about a good book.  It can take all of the external forces in our lives and make them seem non-existent for a few moments. Losing ourselves in a great story line can give us a temporary escape from reality and take us on a journey to a life outside of our own.

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Although authors don’t write with us in mind, their words can give us a momentary reprieve from the demons that stalk us throughout our busy days, those demons who try to dwell in the hours that we would like spend in solitude. When you open a novel or turn on an E-reader, the chaotic minutes that you have survived during your work day cease to exist and the outside world becomes a distant memory.

If you are one of the fortunate few who can switch your work brain to the “off” position, you allow yourself to become fully involved in the plot line that the author has created. You send yourself on a journey far beyond the realm of your existence.  The words on the page seep into your mind and you become lost in the world of fiction.

Those words, the way they are woven into a complex story line, allow us the ability to sink into a place of imagery and intrigue.  Those words have the power to enlighten us, torture us, amuse us, make us cry and keep reality at bay as long as we will let them.

We owe it to ourselves to relish those moments of escape.  We need to permit ourselves to embrace the worlds beyond our own and tune out the brash sounds of our real lives by bathing in the dulcet tones of fictitious adventure. Do yourself a favor…..grab a book, turn off the television and let yourself be transported by the rhythm of words.  You will be surprised at how simple it is to live a thousand lives.

 

Much ado about the opposite of nothing

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 I have been conspicuously absent from reading other blogs, or anything else in the category of the written word, because I have been alarmingly removed from anything resembling spare time.   I am on day 10 of a potential 14-day work stretch without a full day off and will certainly log a great deal of overtime this week.  (too bad I’m on salary)

I miss the carefree hours of being able to have enough brain capacity to read on a recurring basis.   This phenomenon happens frequently this time of year and I feel like I am missing an appendage when I cannot feed the creative appetite that incessantly yearns to be fed by words.

My attention span is non-existent.  My ability to concentrate is tenuous.   My capacity to hold a thought is…………………waning.  And the notion that I have enough brain power to write blog posts on my own site on a frequent basis is nothing short of laughable.

Next week is a quiet week at work, probably the last extensive time period that I will have to fill my desire to absorb words as quickly as I am able to, and write words that long to be freed from my mind, before the onset of summer.   The list of books has been established, the index of writing topics has been inventoried, the sequential collection of email notifications has been queued, the wine has been stored at the proper temperature and the spot on the couch has been reserved.

I can only hope that the three empty days on the calendar at work remain that way, for my sake.  I’m slowly learning to be a little more selfish when it comes to pursuing my true passions and I wish for the break in reality to be able to seek the charms of the fantasy life that awaits me in the world of literature and composition.