Canadian Thanksgiving – today is the day I sent my novel, disappearing in plain sight to the publisher. I loaded it up to my author account page with FriesenPress , and bob’s your uncle as the saying goes – away it went. That last moment, before I pressed start upload was filled with an almost indescribable feeling of fear and anxiety – I felt as though I was putting my one-year-old granddaughter down on the divider of a major freeway and walking away without a backward glance.
Today was the culmination of years of work. I first began this novel in June of 2009. I had never intended to write a novel – I was supposed to be writing my PhD candidacy papers. I had two months to accomplish this task. I came to the cabin with several boxes of printed articles and research material so I could do just that.
Then this story started to build itself inside me. I don’t know how else to describe what happened. A character appeared here, a scene constructed itself there, a bit of dialogue between characters hammered itself together – I started to hear these people talking in my head as I walked the trails around the cabin. It wasn’t something I could ignore, so I started to write everything down. It was like an avalanche – it was like being in the grip of a really bad flu – the kind where no matter what you should be doing all you can do is moan with your head over the toilet. OK – the imagery of me vomiting up my novel is not what I wanted to convey – but I couldn’t stop the story from spinning out in my head and I couldn’t stop dutifully taking it down.
Then life happened (a wedding, a trip, a long drawn out death in the family) and when I finally came back to the writing work, the trail of both the novel and the candidacy papers was about as cold as any pieces of writing could go. Nary had a crumb been left anywhere to mark the way.
I struggled to get on with the PhD in the face of mounting extensions and totally justified supervisor frustration. An ultimate reassessment of what I wanted to do with my life resulted in withdrawal from the doctoral program. We celebrated the decision with a driving trip down and around Northern California and that’s when all the ideas for The Jennerville Women’s Chamber of Commerce started bubbling up. I became enthusiastic about writing again and spent a big chunk of time outlining Jennerville. But disappearing in plain sight stayed in the drawer.
More life was happening – another year going by. I did take the notes for Jennerville and disappearing in plain sight out now and then and fiddle with bits and pieces of them – nothing sustained and nothing serious. When I remember back to that time, I think that I was waiting for something to happen. I needed a kick-start to give myself permission to be a writer. The details of that would make a good post, too – but another day – OK?
In the fall of 2011 all the stars and the planets aligned themselves correctly. I opened the file folder – clicked on disappearing in plain sight and got to work. Several drafts later and it was April of this year and I thought, at long last, the damn book was done. Oh, silly, silly me. I sent it out to be read by a few people I trust and I got some nice comments – people liked the story but there were issues. A crash course in the mechanics of writing was needed and some serious structural problems had to be addressed. Well – I got myself a superb editor who was willing to baby me through a line by line copy-edit of the entire manuscript, taking the time to teach me as we went. I tackled the structural issues. It was painful and I let go of pieces of the story that had been there since the very first draft. And today I got my reward! Today I got to turn my novel over to the world.
I feel as though I am standing on the peak of a very high mountain. I’m going to savour the moment because I know I only need to turn around to see that there are many, many more mountains to climb – some much higher than the one I have attained. But that’s OK – one step at a time.
Today I am grateful for all the people in my life that helped me get to this mountain top – if you’re reading this blog, you know who you are. What the heck? I’ve got to get the rest of you reading my blog!