That was easy

 

coverWhen I was eleven I started keeping a journal. I wrote down my observations and reflections about my relationships, my family, nature. I kept the journal in my underwear drawer, out of the hands of my nosey, younger siblings. I wrote about boys I liked, the sports I hated, misunderstandings with girlfriends, my anxieties, hopes, and dreams.

I continued journaling into adulthood. If I got too busy to write, I felt empty and disconnected.    

One of my hopes was to become a fiction writer. I  kept waiting to begin. I needed more time, more inspiration, more confidence.  Finally, in my mid-thirties I put pen to paper.

The Love We All Wait For (the working title was Hearts Crazier Than Mine) started out as a short story of a family in a small town the Salinas Valley in the mid-1970s.  I whittled and sanded this tale of a widowed mother and her three children, narrated by seventeen-year-old Sheila O’Connor.

One day Tom Jenks, my writing instructor at the time, told me I had a novel on my hands.  I was excited, and scared.

Jenks compared writing a novel to stringing a bead necklace. The writer must not only string the necklace, she must also make the beads. He gently informed me I had many beads to make.

During this time, I’d go into bookstores and attend readings. I would envy authors in their twenties with an MFA, three or four books, and a bunch of literary awards under their belts.  I’d get discouraged, want to quit writing.

I’d also started a marketing communications business, gotten married, and had a baby. Plenty of excuses to put down the novel.

But I pushed through. After ten years (I’m told seven is the average for a first novel), the manuscript was ready to shop around to agents and publishers. My friends and family threw a party for me;  I won an award at a writers conference and found a publisher.

When I was editing the last paragraph of the novel for publication, my husband handed me a small black box from Staples and told me to open it.

Bleary eyed, I obeyed. 

“Press the red button,” he said. 

“That was easy!”  

It was an absurb, ecstatic moment. We burst out laughing.  Crazy laughter typical of all you-had-to-be-there jokes.

The book’s been out in hardcover for six months. The reviews trickling in have been favorable.  But the economy is affecting publishers and booksellers; sales are “down.”  (For a first-time author, “down” is relative.)  Five years ago only two people had read the manuscript.  Now hundreds, maybe a thousand, have read the novel. The cover is gorgeous, thanks to the gifted designer Jasmine Nakagawa. 

I’m continuing to promote The Love We All Wait For while working on a second novel and pondering a third.

The wait is over. 

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3 Comments »

  1. Mark said

    Leave it to Tim to bring you an “easy” button. Hilarious. Thanks for sharing your story about your story here. It gives other aspiring authors hope to know that all’s not lost if it takes seemingly forever to get over the hump of the first one. I was also glad to see the great review. There will be more!

  2. lwdoyle said

    Thanks, Mark. Glad you enjoy the post. Hope you’re right about more reviews 🙂

  3. […] novel reminds me of great classical literature by writers such as J. D. Salinger or John Steinbeck. Lee’s blog on her writing process reveals a deeply sensitive writer who juggles responsibilities as a mother […]

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