My new baby arrived at 3:15 p.m. on December 17, 2009. We called it "I Know You by Heart." It's my first novel and I think it is a girl. My pregnancy with this child of mine was four years from conception to publication. The idea for the story was long in development yet the writing of the draft took less than a year, but the buffing, the couching, the parsing the final edit and sale took three years more.
And I'm happy that it arrived at all.
Many writers I know find that calling themselves authors feels fraudulent since they have not been offically published. I have to remind some that even if they write a column or blog for their local paper, they are published authors or journalists, pure and simple. But somehow, unless you are the author of a book, one does not feel the authenticity of being an accomplished author. The work is to get the facts straight. If someone is reading your work and it's out in the public for their edification, you are a published author.
I think I even had to convince myself of that, although I had been a journalist for many years for the New York Times. Just consider this: A byline with the Times is big business, but within a day, my byline is part of the recycling bin or a good use for wrapping gifts or lining shelves. My name would disappear as quickly as it was printed and remain only in the archives of the Times.
A book, for all of us who are lucky to be novelists, can prove that our work is up and available for those who want to read our work more than once, or even give the book as a gift to a loved one. For me, that's a gift all its own. I wrote my first novel with love for my characters and my audience. And they have responded with a love all their own.
I also feared what it would take to sell the book, once it was published. And the big surprise was that I love meeting the public who wants to read about a woman who carries on an "affair of the heart" right before her doting husband's eyes and then dies before the relationship is resolved. The people I've met are mesmerized with the scenario, because many people in my audience feel closely related to the characters in the book.
The book allows the family to deal with the shock of the woman's death and the revelation of her affair. And just as in every family, there are stories of infidelity, incredulity and resolution for them all, and the book is a sweep through the lives of almost everyone who will read the book.
How proud I am to know that this is my work--my career. It's an amazing experience for a woman who was educated to be a teacher, but never wanted to be a teacher, and became a writer because I needed to be a writer.
It took many years to achieve this level of happiness and success and I only hope that my story and the stories in "I Know You by Heart" will help woman to find their own determination to do just what I did.....FIND YOUR OWN WAY....AND BE PROUD OF YOUR GRIT AND FORTITUDE TO DO IT!