I can’t quite believe it has arrived, or that I’m the one writing those simple words. After eons spent trying to create, write, edit and be published, more years than I care to count, today, 31st July 2017 is my final day as an unpublished author!
Tomorrow my debut novel ‘A Christmas Wish’ will be published and my dream will come true.
It was a fairly simple goal but the journey has been far greater than I’d have imagined. I can recall evenings spent in my single-girl house busily scribbling after work. Weekends spent in the corner of the dining room of my marital home tapping away on a tiny make shift desk. The glorious arrival of my current writing desk and how I cried when it replaced the make shift one in the dining room. I bought her in 2008 with the money given to me as a leaving present collected from staff at Woodhouse school in Tamworth. And 2013, when I finally took ownership of the tiny spare room as my writing room – I have a wooden sign to prove it!
The disappointment in November 2009 of attempting National Novel Writing Month for the first time and failing in week two. I bereted myself for not being able to write the daily 1667 words without a plan. The nerves and later ecstasy in 2012, when my new writing friend Helen Phifer held my hand for 30 days as I completed NaNoWriMo with 50,213 words. And now, the excitement of seeing my 2014 NaNoWriMo project about to be published.
I look about my writing room at the folders of scribbled research, the shelves of cherished notebooks and the well-thumbed baby naming book that supports my imagination. The post-it notes, whiteboards and pin board obsession that has developed and readily acknowledge that this journey has done little to curb my obsession with stationery. Or my book/paper sniffing habit.
I’ve read, listened and stalked… yes, it feels that way sometimes, numerous authors who have readily and affectionately become my dear friends. I’ve purchased and read books purely to dissect and deface with highlighters in relation to character arc, structure and dialogue. I’ve learnt how to build my own website, dived head first into social media and picked up the baton to host the RNA Birmingham Chapter.
I remember routines such as writing at a specified time when an alarm clock rang, free writing for thirty minutes to capture my unconscious thoughts even attending a course tutorial where a poem about a pink post-it note silenced the room. Early morning writing sessions and very late into the night writing sessions – I’ve done both. Writing in coffee shops, classrooms, during car journeys and even, in a summer house within my local graveyard – I’ve written whenever and wherever it was necessary.
Stared at people’s faces, their bodies, noted their stance or walk, their gestures, their swearing, slang and street talk – I have people watched every day of my life. Listened to numerous conversations between strangers in public places and refrained from joining in on several occasions.
I’ve laughed at myself as I’ve measured the circumference of a willow tree trunk on a public roadway with a dressmakers tape. Asked strangers outlandish questions about their lives. Interrupted silences with a loud exclaimation as a fresh idea arrives. Brought home numerous lost/found objects such as jigsaw puzzle pieces, artificial lilies, tree bark and feathers found in strange places during dog walks. Researched the unlikeliest, and sometimes unsavoury, subjects on the internet only to make husband aware that I’m not planning anything sinister - it is all in the name of research and plotlines.
All in all, I’ve done everything that anyone has ever advised me to do in relation to creating, writing and editing a novel. And after many hours of writing, consuming copious amounts of fresh tea and much hard work it has paid off.
Tomorrow, I will be a published author (with copious amount of champagne).
Each month of my calendar is dedicated to an aspect of my writing life. July is no exception. July is the RNA Summer conference. This was my fifth annual conference and a return visit to the Harper Adams university, Shropshire.
The programme of events and speakers was varied and informative, as always. I was intrigued by Fiona Harper’s talk about character arcs, humoured by Bella Osborne and Alison May’s presentation ‘Plotter v Pantser’ and delighted by Jill Mansell’s interview.
With 230 RNA delegates dashing back and forth between the conference rooms, there was much chatter about books, publishing contracts and future plans.
Saturday night brought the gala dinner – where we donned our posh frocks and dined in style. The wine flowed, the laughter grew louder and the in-group jokes about pampas grass and harp playing evolved towards hilarious.
The Birmingham Chapter made our ‘pledges’ for the coming year and I was delighted to hand Donna Ashcroft, my Katie Fforde Bursary 2017 twin the beautiful trophy which I’ve had since February.
I’ve arrived home eager to complete the edits of book 2 and musing the possibilities of a new project for Christmas 2018! All in all, I had a fabulous weekend immersed in the book world.
Thank you to everyone who took photographs and then generously shared them via social media.
I've spent a lifetime chasing a dream. The dream that others would read and enjoy a book written by me. For years, my mantra had been 'one day' - I knew I wouldn't be giving up my quest any time soon so, 'one day' my publishing deal would materialise. I'd trained myself in response to the sporadic flow of rejection letters that would puncture my confidence, the two days of recovery I'd need to 'get over' the disappointment and even adapted to a strange routine of juggling the day-job whilst writing.
There were plenty of times when I felt guilty for spending hours crafting my work, not being with those I love - instead alone in a tiny room consumed by my imagination and obsession with word counts. I learnt to deal with the non-believers who politely smiled and chuckled that 'it'll never happen'. The ones that would announce my dreams at inappropriate moments just because their conversations had wavered. Even the constant flow of 'the next JK Rowling' remarks that accompanied party introductions followed by my stumbling explanation that 'no, I didn't wish to be the next JKR, simply a published author.'
But all that has changed. Four weeks today, my debut novel 'A Christmas Wish' will be published. After a lifetime of waiting I'll have achieved my dream. My world and mantra has definitely changed, and so have my future dreams.
Link to Amazon page to pre-order - click here