I shared the following status on my Facebook page last week about what occurred at my book signing event at Barnes & Noble the previous weekend:
So yesterday, at my book event, my husband totally lost his mind. It began when he started browsing through other titles on the shelves and decided that several novels I had written in past years (LOOOONG ago) were every bit as good as what this guy had written (this guy being Nicholas Sparks) and stated that he was going to dig up the manuscripts and read them over and I was going to edit them for publication. After I finish Book 4, of course!
So instead of going to the 10:30 Mass this morning, we are now going to the 1:30 Mass because we have spent the last three hours digging through old boxes that have been gathering dust under the basement stairs and in my office closet and he has culled a total of two complete manuscripts (the reason it took so long was that the pages were not in sequential order and there were several edited versions combined) and two partial ones (which I never finished) and has set himself the task of reading them and doing preliminary edits. Should I ever find the time to work on them, there might be something worth submitting for publication... however I dread looking at my early efforts because I know they are going to stink to high heaven (one is sixteen years old... going to have to do a LOT of updating on that one!) Still, I have to say I AM excited at the thought...
Going through those manuscripts was eye-opening (and eye-watering as well... lots of dust!) For one thing, I discovered that, back when I first wrote those stories, I was far from being a good writer. Even now, I still have a lot to learn but back then... well, it's understandable why I collected a good many rejection letters!
Still, even then, I knew I had something--maybe it was talent, maybe it was passion, maybe it was just plain stubbornness--and I continued to dream about being published. And I continued to write. Whenever I have a book event, I usually meet at least one person who has that same dream. At that last event, it was a teenage girl. She had been shy and reluctant to approach me, even though her whole family kept urging her to, and it wasn't until her ebullient younger brother came up to me and loudly announced to the entire store that his sister wanted to be a writer, too. "She writes all the time! She wants to have a book published! I think she's good, too! She wants to know how you became a writer!" When she finally came up to me, she asked the question that usually makes or breaks an aspiring writer: How long did it take?
My stock answer is twenty years. I figure it's the one closest to the truth, if we're talking about actively trying to get published. In reality it was much longer than that, if you count all the stories I wrote when my age was still in single digits, but forty years can REALLY be a discouraging number to hear! Still, every writer knows that getting published doesn't even figure into the equation until one learns to craft a story and write it well. That's what takes so long to "become a writer".
This young girl had something going for her, though, something that not every writer is privileged to have: A family that supported and believed in her dream. When even your eleven-year-old brother is marching up to total strangers and touting your talent and dreams and boldly approaching someone to get information for his sister, you've got a winning team!
I am also fortunate--make that blessed beyond belief--to have my family and friends championing me in my writing career. Their support and encouragement means so much to me. However, many years ago when I first put words on paper, most of my family and friends had no idea what my dreams were, what my goals were, that I was taking those first tentative steps from being a writer to being a published writer. But one person did. He was the one who, despite our tight budget, encouraged me to subscribe to writing magazines; to purchase books on the art and craft of writing; who decided to buy me my first word processor, then desktop, then laptop without batting an eye about the cost; and most of all, who took the time to read my work and give me honest feedback.
So once I finish the fourth book in my Black Horse Campground series and while I work on the fifth, I plan to make time to go through those old manuscripts and work on editing and updating them and preparing to submit them for publication. Will they get published? I'm not sure. That will be entirely up to my publisher. But that's never stopped me from writing before! And my husband Paul is already on the job, reading, making notes, highlighting yellowing manuscript pages, and helping me prepare for the editing process. It could be a daunting challenge, but with Paul's encouragement and support, it's going to be an adventure. Just like everything else in our marriage!
Let's do this, babe!