I was cleaning a bookshelf covered with a hodgepodge of my children’s toys, as my darlings have apparently staked a claim to my entire house [no joke], and a writer’s book fell from the shelf stockpiled with some of my oldies but goodies. Out slid a folded page. After dusting it off I realized it was an old printout of an email from my friend, Lorraine, my kindred spirit in life and writing, dated 2001. Wow. That threw me back. Memories of writing my early novels infiltrated my mind like the Storm Troopers that had leaped off the shelves.
The magical things you find while cleaning a bookshelf covered with kid toys.
June, 2001. Wow, that was 16 years ago. And no, I’m not a pack rat (this note had been carefully folded in an old writer’s book that I think I'd only read once – hence its hiding place). Where had I been in my life in 2001? Where had I been in my writing journey? Well, I’d been in my early twenties, and about to enter graduate school. I was either writing “practice book” #1 (Oh, Aidan and Sophie, my first romantic duo) or #2 (Gabriel and Aileana) at that time. The email included terminology for horses. My novels to date, excluding my most recent women’s fiction, have all been medieval Scottish romances, so a writer needs to understand horses. My good pal is a horse expert. Back then, with Google still in its infancy, I relied heavily upon – gasp – books or experts or experience for research.
Not only did finding this page trigger a trip down memory lane, it also got me thinking about the long haul of writing. Since that time, I have been married, completed graduate school, had two children, lost two very close loved ones, been through several jobs, lived in three states and five apartments and a house, lost and gained friendships, traveled the world a bit, experienced monumental historical events, and acquired far too many gray hairs along with a caffeine addiction. Writing has been a part of my life during each stage in the past 16 years.
Since 2001, I’ve completed five novels and have begun work on the 6th, with one published this year (happy dance!), and more to come! I have no less than four book ideas currently in my head. A writing career usually doesn’t come quickly or easily. Writers are in it for the long haul. I knew that going into it. The ups and downs and detours -- I've had them all. I've learned a lot along the way through friendships, resources and research, practice, and trial and error. My best advice is to keep at it. We will have fruitful years and years that are parched by dry spells.
I swear by the Three P’s when it comes to writing. The biggest thing though – don’t give up. Chase your dream. You are in this for the long haul. I have just hit my stride, and it’s only taken 19 years since the beginning of the journey. Just keep looking ahead, around...and behind.
And that good friend who wrote the email to me? We still chat every day about writing and life. I think I have horse terminology down, but when in doubt, I still run it by her.
The Long Haul. Beauty around you. Amazing adventures ahead of you.
Sometimes it's okay to look behind you and remember the roads you've already traveled.