Monday, January 27, 2014

How It All Began...

Recently, I've had several people ask me how this journey to writer began, especially with several small children to take care of. And the truth is, this journey began long ago, when I was a small girl and had a notebook of poems, songs, and stories I wrote for fun. In fifth grade when my best friend Joanna moved away, I decided to write her a book about our friendship. It was about two best friends, soul sisters if you will, who in the end have to say good-bye. Every afternoon, I came home from school and sat at the typewriter and typed out this book I had written. I spent hours at that typewriter. I then bound the book myself and gave it to Joanna as a going away present.

Cheesy? Maybe a little. But from that day forward, I knew I would one day write a novel.

Fast forward seventeen years. I'm now married and have at least three, possibly four small children. I start to feel the yearn to write. One night as I crawl into bed I express this desire to my husband. I distinctly remember saying to him, "All it takes is one great idea." As I lay awake that night, the idea came to me, slow at first and then gradually building. I hopped out of bed, ran to the computer (yes, thankfully now I could use a computer instead of a typewriter), and spent the next couple of hours hashing out the first few pages. For the next couple of years, I casually wrote in this book. I did tons of research because much of it takes place in South Africa, but guess what? I never finished it. I came close. But at some point in that novel, I got the idea for another novel and decided to run with it.

I wish I could say that I completed this second novel in a matter of months, but the truth is, it took a couple more years of casual writing to feel that I was about halfway through. It wasn't until last spring when I picked up my friend Charity Bradford's book, The Magic Wakes, and read her words and saw her dream being fulfilled that I realized I could finish my novel. I felt like a fire had been lit inside of me. I dusted off my laptop, found my manuscript hidden in the old archives and got to work. The words seemed to flow out of me. I wrote for hours every day. I stayed up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and then woke at 6:30 with my heart pounding, excited to write the next scene. I did this for about four weeks, and then it was finished (well, the easy part was finished anyways).

Once I knew I could finish a novel, a writing demon was unleashed. The ideas for novels knocked around inside my brain begging to be put on paper. I had barely started one novel before I was blasted with a new idea. I found that the words came quicker, the dialogue smoother, the scenes easier. I finished the second one in 3 months and the third one in less than four. As I pile up these manuscripts like unrevised bodies of grammar and narrative, I realize how much work I still have left to do. Revise and rewrite--two terms a writer should become very familiar with. I promised my husband that I will not start another novel until I have revised the last two. Over the next few months, I suppose that should be my focus, as long as I can keep these ideas at bay and my fingers from clicking on a new pages document. (Truthfully, I've already started a couple new ones, but don't tell him that!)

I share this story with you not to say "hey, look at me, look at what I'm doing". I share it simply to inspire others. Maybe you've been contemplating writing a novel or a picture book, and you don't know where to begin. We all have to start somewhere, and hopefully over the next couple of posts I can help you figure out where to begin, and keep you writing long after the ideas stop flowing. In the meantime, keep a notebook handy... you never know when an idea will hit that may just turn into a stellar novel.  


  1. Isn't it crazy how that fire burns once its lit? Good for you for going with it while it was hot!

    I keep notebooks stashed all over the house, in my purse and in my van. We should always be ready when inspiration strikes.


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