Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
It’s taken a while to take my debut novel ‘Dancing Through Fire’ from that first idea to the moment of publication – 22 years in fact. It didn’t take that long to write, you understand, it was more that teaching, single-parenting and all of life’s other adventures took over for long stretches of time. And that’s ok – that’s just as it should have been. ‘Dancing Through Fire’ was always there in the background though, and every so often, during holiday times and quiet weekends, I would fire up the computer, re-read what I’d already written, edit it for the umpteenth time (there were sometimes years in between so my writing style was changing along with my ideas …) and add a brand new chapter. Then I would put it to the side, get on with life and wait for the next clear run at writing to come along. Occasionally I would optimistically, if a little naively, send off a couple of chapters and the proposed outline to various agents and publishing houses only to be met with the usual round of rejections.
Then, around 6 years ago, I put the whole ‘I have to get a publishing contract’ notion to one side and focused instead on writing for the sheer joy of it, which brought a whole new freedom and motivation to the process. I was so much more inspired. Within a year I had finished ‘Dancing Through Fire,’ and, I’ll admit, I shed a tear or two as I wrote the last chapter because after all these years I was going to miss the two main characters, Ellie and Guy.
Once it was finished however, the strangest thing happened. Despite the satisfaction and pride I felt in my achievement I had a crisis of confidence and instead of going full steam ahead to get it published, I did nothing. For 5 years (not the kind of advice I would give to other debut novelists) Thankfully I got my act together at the tail end of last year and with family and friends behind me, went all out to self-publish, putting my first novel out into the world on faith alone. It was the right time and I do believe things happen when they’re meant to happen for reasons we don’t always understand. It’s been both exhilarating and, quite honestly, a little terrifying – will readers fall in love with my characters when they read them the way I did when I wrote them? If even one person does, then that’s success in my books.
I’m on book 2 now which is set in Elie, on Scotland’s very beautiful East coast. I plan to publish this year (not another 22 years from now) and I plan to enjoy every moment of the writing process from finding the right words to describe the beautiful things in life to falling in love with a whole new set of characters.
For now though, a huge thank you for keeping me company on this most exciting of journeys.
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