By August of 2009, I had gone through one and a half complete revisions and added several new scenes. My word count was up to almost 70,000. Then I got stuck again. I knew there were small holes in my plot, but I had spent so much time on it that I could no longer differentiate from what was in my head and what was on the page. It was time to find a fresh reader again. My first choice for a critical reader is my husband, since he keeps me grounded in reality. As bad as that may sound, it is a good thing--in small doses. Unfortunately, he was not available. Instead, I handed it over to two close friends.
With their feedback I began to have this constant gnawing in the back of my mind. That "what if" sensation that just would not let me move on with my life. What if I could share this story with the world? What if I could make a go of this writing thing? There is something very exciting about giving in to the creative forces, unlocking some deep hidden part of my soul in the process. I'm finding bits of myself emerging that I never knew existed. Strength, determination, even some stubborn assertiveness that has been dormant most of my life.
All through August, September and most of October, I became obsessed with my book. I dreamed about it at night, thought about it while driving my kids around, sitting in church, and even when talking to friends. I worked every day on revisions, and drove my friends and family crazy talking about it. Nothing could distract me from Talia and Landry and their fight to save their world, my world really. Half way through October I realized that Nano was almost upon me again. Do I skip a year and continue revising while the momentum is strong, or do I set Sendek aside and try to knock out another rough draft? Right or wrong (still undecided on that point), I decided to write a fresh 50K by writing the complete history of the Draguman (my antagonist in Sendek). They have a great story, but it did not fit in the first book. So, I began outlining while I sat in the car pool line and I continued to work on my work in progress (WIP) during the day and late at night.
The last week of October was so crazy! I wanted to be writing, but I also wanted to create a beautiful wedding cake for my sister who was getting married on Halloween. I put all my writing away (actually I packed it for that 8 hour road trip) and began baking. I enjoyed several days with my family for the wedding, and then pulled out my laptop and started Nano during that long ride home. My poor hubby was left to listen to his Ipod and the kids fussing in the back as I went into my literary fog.
"You are a writer?"
"Yes." I spoke softly and then paused. A new feeling welled up inside and I wanted to hear it again, so I spoke a little louder. "Yes, I am."
After a small chuckle, "Did that feel good?"
"Yes it did! I've always answered that question by saying 'no, but I want to be'. I think this is the first time I have ever answered yes."
"Then you better say it again."
"I am a writer!" Spoken loud enough for the rest of our group to hear me and turn to stare.
It felt like how I imagined the barbaric yawp from Dead Poets Society must have felt. Such a simple declaration once more made me feel like crying for joy. In the writing world I am still a nobody, unknown, but inside my heart I finally feel like a writer. If I am never picked up by an agent or publisher, I am still proud of what I have accomplished. I still have a long way to go in this process (all the hard part actually), but I have learned that getting published is not what makes you a writer.
A writer is someone who has to write in order to stay sane. They have to share the visions, emotions, knowledge, whatever is floating around in their head by writing it down with pen and ink or keyboard. In order to quiet the voices in their head, they have to put the characters on the page and give them room to grow. When they are happy, shocked, angry or sad, they write to help themselves come to new understandings of emotions and what they mean to our journey through life. They enjoy the way words flow and conjure images. When they see the shadows of the clouds drifting over the mountains as they drive down the highway for eight hours, they want to write about it so they do. When they see anything beautiful, they pick up a pen and jot a few lines. They carry notebooks with them everywhere they go. A writer is all these things and much much more...and I have finally become a writer.