The things we do for love…. (Or sanity!)

When I first started this journey of writing books a little over a year ago, I just had an idea.  I was standing in the shower, feeling panicked about life and wondering what was next; where I was supposed to turn.  Then, the idea for my first book came to me.

Next came the figuring out how I would actually get to writing.  We are a one computer family, with the computer in the living room, where anything anyone does is out in the open and accessible.  I knew I could write while the kids were at school, but that is not when it would be most convenient for me to do so, as that is when I get all of the other things that moms need to do without the hassle of being disturbed every few seconds.  Then, it hit me.

Our children went to a Montessori school for a year.  During that time, while in 5th grade, our oldest needed a computer for word processing.  We found him an old Toughbook and got it up to speed.  Once we moved to a different state and the children once again were in public school, he no longer had need of his private laptop.  So, I found it and plugged it in, wondering if it still worked.

It did work!  It fired right up and I began to get excited.  I dared to think that maybe, just maybe, this may be possible.  Then I looked at the keyboard.  There were several keys missing.  But, by this time, I was too excited and anxious to get started to let the condition of the machine get me down.  I started pounding away and my first book began to take form.

I wrote on the broken down, beaten up laptop in the evenings once the kids went to bed, at my daughter’s OT appointments, at doctors’ appointments.  Typing with a broken keyboard was no easy feat.  But, I was determined to get my story out.  Eventually, my husband took pity on me and found that we could order a new keyboard online.  It came and he changed it for me.  As grateful as I was, I still marvel that I managed to write over half of my book on a machine with 4 missing keys.  To me, it is representative of my desperation to get my story out and how once I decided to do it, there was not much that could hold me back.  My computer, like me, was broken.  It was imperfect; it was damaged.  And yet, it could still turn out the words.  It was still capable and willing, even if the journey required more effort and struggle.

The keyboard is me:  I am missing pieces.  I am old, I am beaten down, I am worn out.  There are newer models, fancier versions and prettier interfaces.  But, this computer became my beacon of hope.  It became my sanity, my safety net, my refuge and my strength, like an old security blanket.

I have since upgraded to another, slightly newer machine, because the old one just wouldn’t connect to the internet in a timely manner.  That became the biggest hurdle for my progress. But, I will always keep it in order to remind me from where I came and how I started and how sometimes even the most broken of things can produce amazing results.

 

Laptop book

They Like It!

One of the hardest things an author can do, I think, is turning their work over to a friend.  It is hard enough to face rejection from strangers, but when it is a possibility from those one likes and respects, then the stuff gets real!

I let a friend of mine read my books because she has a connection to the publishing world through an agent.  I thought if she liked them, she may be able to pass them along to her contact.

I waited on pins and needles for several weeks.  I have a few people to whom I have sent the first book and have never heard back any feedback, but when I ask, they say they just haven’t read it yet.  But, this time, when I asked, my friend promised she would read it the next day.

I was thrilled beyond belief when the Facebook Messenger app started pinging and I read her first reviews.  She wasn’t even done and she felt the need to let me know that she was thoroughly enjoying it, forgetting that it was a friend who wrote it and how she was so involved with the characters and the storyline that she was even reading at stoplights.  My heart swelled with joy when I realized that yet another test reader was liking my work!

She is in the process of beginning the second book, A Twist of Faith.  In some cases, this book is my favorite, because it deals with the history of my home state.  I feel a connection with it deeply and vividly visualize the landscape before my eyes.  Another test reader read it and said that she could envision exactly what my brain had pictured when she described it.  But, on the other hand, my first book, A Good Kind of Crazy, is my favorite, because I can see the scenes before my eyes with that book, as well, and it there are more elements of “me” in that story than the second one.  If I had to really choose which one was my favorite, I don’t think I could.

I am grateful for my test readers because they come from different experiences and backgrounds and when I get positive feedback from all who have read my books, it truly makes me feel as though I have struck gold.  As I write, I see the events laid out so clearly, it is like I am watching a movie playing in my head.  I see the scenery, the people, the clothing.  The facial expressions of each character is always present in my mind. I truly understand why my favorite professor while I was obtaining my geography degree at the University of Nevada, Reno was always going on about the importance of a good sense of place.  Sense of place is what allows our minds fill in the blanks between the words on a page and the scenes in our heads.  The feedback I have gotten is that people are able to envision what I did, and it feels amazing.  Several times test readers have told me that they could see the two books as movies.  I can’t imagine how thrilled I would be to see my work come to live on screen!  I wonder if everyone else’s visions would match my own.

Everyone likes to get atta girls, but for me, it is more than that.  To get the confirmation that people are so invested in my stories that they can’t put them down makes me know that my goal has been achieved.  Books should offer an escape:  The reader should feel like they are watching everything unfold before them and get lost in the characters and their lives.  I know for myself, I cried when both books were finished because I felt the loss of the characters occupying my mind very deeply.  I want my readers to feel that way, too.  I want them to be so invested that they are feeling the shock of having to return to reality when they reach the end.

I am grateful for my test readers and the feedback and suggestions they give me.  But, when so much of it has been truly positive, I can’t help but feel like I am on to something!