All I wanted for my 30th birthday was to have my book published. Of course, I was only 25 when I decided this. By the time that I actually reached 30, I knew that there was more of a journey for me to follow through with before that vital publishing step could happen.
My parents always told me that I could be anything that I wanted in the world. It’s even more amazing, that I found what I wanted. It was the incredible world of literature. Of other worlds that amazingly creative minds have created. Worlds that I just love to immerse myself in. Of course I didn’t just stumble across it. I have always been a reader, since I was a wee spring chicken. At our local community library when I was a child, I managed to pretty much read my entire way through it. Yup, even the adult stuff. I loved it. Libraries are now a great sense of comfort for me. That is one of the reasons why I built my own library at home. Oh, it’s not that ‘grand’, but it is lined with books. So many books.
Skipping back to when I was young… I was also a writer back then as well. I wrote many a short story, and many a poem. I also kept numerous journals, for numerous years. But I didn’t actually know that I was a writer. I guess that it had never really occurred to me. This was not an aspiration that I had worked towards. I spent years training to be a designer. Then once I actually got to be a designer… I just knew somewhere deep down inside of me, that this wasn’t right either.
When my parents split up (when I was 25), I went through a bit of a rough time. I took a few days off work to process this fracture in my life. During those days off, I stumbled across an old diary of mine. (One of the many diaries that I wrote.) Inside was a list. A beautiful list of all the things that I wanted to do and achieve before I died. So I sat down in the bottom of my wardrobe, and I started going through the list, and crossing off things that I have done. Like bungy-jumping, buying a house, driving a racing car down the quarter-mile track, getting married… you get the idea. But on this list, stated at item number 13 was: Write a book.
Just for the record, number 13 has always been one of my lucky numbers… and reading this list was all the encouragement that I needed.
I started straight away. I leapt into character development, and storyline planning. And then I started writing. I wrote and I wrote. And in between writing, I was comforting my brother and sister through the separation. But I was writing. Writing like the wind, I would say. I was cranking out 6000 words per weekend. Now, for an amateur, that’s not a bad effort.
In the middle of all this, I started to network with other writers online. A very small grouping, but it was enough. This was when I met a really good, and long-term writing friend, Peter. He wrote these amazing stories about a chap named Tom Fish that kept me in fits of giggles.
But it was the support and the love of the craft that bonded us together. He was also the first reader of my very amateur blogging efforts. Bless. I feel sorry for Peter, now that I look back on those times.
I’m so pleased that I have walked the incredible path that I have already. It has taken me years, but still I trudged onwards.
Not long after I met Peter, I printed out the 80,000 word manuscript that I managed to crank out, and I gave it to a friend. She told me that she wanted to read it, and I let her. Big fricking mistake. I wasn’t ready. I really wasn’t. The feedback that she gave me was appalling, and I’m afraid that this has scarred me for life.
When I say that it has scarred me… well this is because I think I wasn’t ready to hear what she had to say. Maybe this has made me a better writer? Maybe it hasn’t. But what I really didn’t need at the time was for her to go through my precious first manuscript that was so close to my heart with a red pen, and mark out every single mistake I had made. I needed someone to read it, and tell me whether or not the story was okay, or whether or not the storyline needed further work. It was hard enough hearing her say that she thought my story was a trashy novel reincarnated, but it was even harder reading through all the red pen. Needless to say, that story [The Legacy] is hiding away in a deep dark drawer waiting for me to finally pay it a little bit of love and attention again.
This story is particularly close to my heart because this was the novel that I wrote during an incredibly emotional time with my parents, and my family unit falling apart. This was the story that helped me work through a multitude of issues. My husband once told me that I should burn it. put it through a formal burning ceremony, to release and let go of those dark days… but a part of me just can’t burn up months and months of solid and hard work. You see, it’s not just the manuscript that I would be burning. It’s a part of my writer’s journey. The foundation stone of this journey.
After getting that first initial lot of feedback, and after all the hurt, I sat back and took stock. I looked at everything in detail, and reinvented my ideas, and my working methodology. During that time, I also started to build a fortress around myself. I taught myself that feedback is one person’s opinion, and that you can either take it or leave it. But it is a readers opinion. And if you want anyone to read your work, then you should probably pay attention to it. You don’t have to take it on board – just pay it some sort of attention. After all, the reader has taken the time out of their lives to give this to you. it’s a gift. Embrace it. Embrace the criticism, because only you can learn from it.
I still consider myself being at the start of my journey. Perhaps I will always feel that way? Perhaps not. All I know is that there is so much more out there for me to learn, embrace, and produce. There are many more stories and novels in me. And only I can put them out there.
So, that’s me for the moment. This is part I of my story. I’m sure that there will be many more parts to this as I progress, but this is it for now. This post was intended to be a post about me reviewing other people’s work… but somehow it morphed into something bigger than just that.