The history of my writing starts with a purse. Like the character of Linda in my new novel, The Wednesday Sisters, my first writing teacher—at a college extension class—dumped hers out over the table and told us to write for five minutes about anything that spilled out. She swore we wouldn’t have to read (just as Linda does in The Wednesday Sisters when she’s pushing the sisters to write at the picnic table in the park). Then she called on me to read first.
Which is the good news. If she hadn’t, I’d have ducked out before she could. It had taken all the nerve I had just to get to that class, to admit that, yes, I dreamed of writing novels.
To make a long story short from that point, I’m just going to say it: Ten Years. That’s how long it took me from dumped purse to first novel on bookstore shelves. The thing that kept me going: writing friends.
Would I have kept writing without the support of others trying to do what I was doing? I don’t know, and I’m sure glad I’ll never have to!
Like the Wednesday Sisters in the book, none of my early writing friends was published when we started out, but most of us do have books on the shelves now, or coming soon. We’re a stubborn bunch—which, if you’ve read any of the guest posts I’ve been honored to host on 1st Books to date—seems to be what it takes.
I’m as shy as Frankie in The Wednesday Sisters is, but one thing I’ve learned about writers is that they tend to be about the nicest, most generous people you’ve ever met. Published or not, doesn’t matter. I think it has to do with the way you come to know yourself through writing. I know writing has made me a better person. Which is reason enough to write.
And the rewards go so far beyond that. Which is all I’m going to say here, because I have a whole page dedicated to writing on my website, and I don’t want you to get tired of reading here and miss the best part of this post, which is the slide show. It was sent to me yesterday by Robin Rolewicz, the wonderful editor who acquired The Wednesday Sisters for Ballantine Books, just because she wanted me to have a nice publication day. Shockingly, even agents and publishers are nice. To be honest, I think this whole business is such a tough one that anyone who doesn’t do it for the love of literature doesn’t do it for very long.
Take a look at the slide show, and then pick up your pen and open your journal. Sign up for a class or a conference. Find one of the many online writers’ gathering places. What have you got to lose, except maybe a few coins that roll through the slats of the picnic table in the park when you dump out the contents of your purse?