“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” By Edard Morgan Forster, English Novelist.
Last year I finally told myself that I should either quit talking about writing a book or actually write one. I was beginning to annoy myself with the “I wish I could write a book…but” thoughts that always ran through my mind. I had an idea for a plot (more or less) but felt mired in my inability to just get started. So I did the easy stuff first – I bought a notebook to capture thoughts and ideas whenever they occurred to me and then bought a lap top. That’s right – in today’s technologically soaked world I didn’t own a lap top. But I do now!
So what to do next? I didn’t really feel like going back to college and getting a degree in Creative Writing – after all, I’m closer to retirement than I am to the beginning of my career. Not to say that I’m too old to get another degree. Anyone who is thinking about it should go for it! But I’ve got two degrees and I’m happy with them. Honestly, I wanted an easier way. So I did a little research (after all, I now have a lap top!) and found Writer’s Digest University and found just what I’d been looking for. Writer’s Digest provides a whole array of workshops and on-line courses including several that can help someone get started on writing a novel. I found the first step on my path.
I enrolled in a twelve week course that promised I would have a first draft of my novel in 90 days, all I had to do was write Scene by Scene. If I did the work, of course. It turned out to be much harder than I expected. Not just the writing part, but the part where I constantly questioned myself and my ability to write and complete this course. It takes a lot of energy to create the negative chatter that fills my head. One of the most agonizing moments for me was submitting my first scene. The instructor was a published author and college professor, and who am I? I was sure he would recommend that I find another avenue for my creativity outside of writing. It took me ten minutes with my finger hovering over the send button before I finally took a deep breath and submitted my first assignment. The anxiety attacks began shortly thereafter. What had I done? I was subjecting myself to someone else’s criticism and judgement. And that terrified me.
Lucky for me I have a supportive and sensible husband who pointed out to me that the whole purpose of taking the class was to get the help I needed to write my first book. And how was I going to get the feedback if the professor didn’t review and provide his critique? I hate it when he’s logical, but I had to admit he made a very good point.
It turns out that the professor was nice, but definitely honest. He did provide me with plenty of good notes and I began to look forward to his responses to my assignments rather than dread them. And although I didn’t have a complete first draft of a novel,I was pretty close by the end of the course. And this is how my novel, Purple Skies was born. But there’s so much more to becoming a writer than simply writing. The next step was to ask my friends and family for help.
There’s a quote in my novel that I would like to share as I continue on my journey. “I would rather regret the things I’ve done than those I haven’t.” So I took that next step – and I asked my friends and family to read my book.