Ever since I can remember, it’s been one of my most persistent dreams to write a novel.
As a kid, I started a book (in pencil, by hand!) every summer. Mostly, it was a loose collection of semi-autobiographical tales that happened to a make-believe person.
When summer ended, so did the book. It wasn’t finished, but I put it on a shelf in my closet and started a new one the following summer.
And so it went — for years.
My first career was as a newspaper journalist.
I wrote every day — nonfiction. Real things that happened to real people in real time.
My colleagues and I often talked about writing “the Great American Novel.” Most of them weren’t serious; I was, but dared not admit it for fear of being ridiculed and discouraged.
One day, the “itch” became so insistent that I had to scratch it. I started a novel.
Not on company time, mind you. By then, I was on a new career in Web Design. Running my own business meant I could write around projects.
I wrote while watching my son’s soccer games, or waiting for him to get out of school, or during one of his many lessons.
And I actually finished this novel. Keyed in (on computer) “The End.” Finally, I was a writer!
The book was awful, unless you count spelling, grammar, and sentence structure (thank you, grade school nuns!). If you like tension, conflict, characterization, and such, forget it.
So it joined the unfinished others on the shelf, while I devoured Writer’s Digest magazines, poured money into writing how-to books, attended workshops and tried to learn what I didn’t even know I didn’t know.
Several years ago I faced another dreaded lull in my business.
Time on my hands. Fear of going to the poorhouse.
I started a second novel and finished it, too.
This one was better. With age comes courage (if we’re lucky), and I sent out query letters, hoping to snag a literary agent.
I studied some more. Did more reading. Attended a conference or two.
And started my third novel.
I typed “The End” several months ago and have since polished and revised and polished some more. Once again, I’m shopping for an agent. Once again, I’m looking for publication.
Because everybody knows being a writer is different from being an author — right?
Well, sort of.
I’d like to think I don’t need publication to validate what I’m doing. That, even if I can’t go into a bookstore and pick up a book with my name on the cover and my words inside, I’m still a writer.
But why write if you can’t share your words with the world??
So I’ll continue chasing my dream. And I’ll continue to write because that’s what writers do.
As Admiral Farragut once said, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”