Tuesday, June 19, 2012
I am giving my book another read-thru, brainstorming title possibilities at my agent's suggestion. Just now, as I read a line I particularly like, I realized I was crying.
It has been a long year. I don't do things halfway, as I am sure you know. A year ago, I began writing a short novel for my stepdaughter. She is a child who already has everything she could ask for, and I never know exactly what to offer her on Christmas and her birthday. What do I have to give that her mother has not already given?
I'm a writer. It's what I do. Up until that revelation, I was writing creative nonfiction and poetry almost exclusively. I got discouraged by rejections many years ago, and I let fiction, my first love, fall by the wayside. I started the story, Sanna of Sarai, intending to write it and print one copy for Savannah. However, writing it felt good. My friend's daughter was my first reader, and she loved the book.
I started sending Sanna to agents. I got a lot of rejections and one request that ended up as another rejection. But, I wasn't ready to give up. November (NANOWRIMO) approached. I had an idea for a teen novel about a liar named Natalie Dair. I dubbed the book Truth or Dair and whipped it out in less than 30 days. When I started shopping it around, I got a lot more requests. No offers, but I was encouraged by personal rejections with helpful criticism.
I poured a bit of contemporary adult fiction into a Word document and then toyed with a "book club" style for a middle-grade novel. I shelved it, however, when I read a blog post from my father. He wrote about the books that saved him as a child in Eastern Kentucky. Something in me started buzzing, and I began inking a story about a "magic library." My first dance with time-travel fiction and writing about another era, the 1950s. Notes and papers overflowed my desk and clung to the walls. I lived inside that world. When I sent out A Library for Valentine, I got a handful of requests, but no offers.
Driving past a local homeless community, one I have felt very adamant about protecting, I decided to write a book that touched on homelessness. Also, due to the tornadoes that wrecked Eastern Kentucky this year and the similar storms that ripped through Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, and other locations, I decided my narrator would be homeless due to a tornado. Then, lying in bed one night, I heard a voice in my head. The voice was my narrator, and she gave me a line to start with, but I struggled to get her onto paper authentically. I won a copy of Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman, and I got it. I was trying to force Calvary Jones to tell me her story in longish chapters. She isn't that kind of narrator. She is frazzled and angry and full of biting commentary.
Now I have an agent. I know having an agent is no guarantee of imminent publication. But I have an agent. He talks about this story and my characters as though he has stepped inside my very own head and truly understands them.
So here I am, re-reading my story, and I am suddenly in tears. In tears! Because sometimes we just need somebody to get it.
I am grateful for the blessings currently reigning in my life. God is good. All the time. Even here, in the midst of Asperger's and Tourette's, in the midst of dietary changes that feel impossible, in the midst of working and trying and hoping...
God is good.
All the time.