Contrary to the image I have thus far built up through my previous posts, I do engage in activities other than cooking when I have time away from my regular editing work. My primary ambition is to complete and publish a novel, and eventually to make a living from doing this. Like most people pursuing a creative profession, I found it absolutely necessary to have another means of supporting myself, and in my case, illness and the determination to work freelance and from home have left me with far less time than I expected to spare for what is still in my own mind my reason for being. I am fortunate in that I got lucky and found a way into a career not entirely divorced from what I really want to be doing, but scraping together time to focus on creative writing has been difficult, and I haven’t had the wherewithal to pull the Sylvia Plath shift since my early twenties. When I do wake up at four in the morning I barely have the brain power to watch television, let alone write something coherent.
I am told that when I was a toddler I took an abnormally long time to speak. I started vocalizing at the expected time, saying “Mummy” and a few other words (I’m sure “cat” was one of them), but I didn’t start attempting to string words together into sentences. My mother took me to the pediatrician more than once, convinced that my hearing was damaged despite all evidence to the contrary, but all the tests indicated that I was fine–as far as he could tell I just didn’t want to speak, and I would when I was ready to. I could read already; my babysitter would read the newspaper with me in her lap teaching me first to point out letters on the page and then words. The suspense ended when my parents had friends over for dinner one evening when I was about three. I turned to the person next to me and said “would you like some more cake?” Apparently I’d been waiting until I could be sure that I had the grammar right before I ventured a complete sentence.
This has been a characteristic of mine ever since. I am by no means a perfectionist in most aspects of my life, but speaking before an audience or letting others see fiction that I’ve written before I’m sure it’s finished is a challenge for me. I’ve taken small, sporadic steps at overcoming this since I graduated university and survived a life-threatening illness, because honestly, what am I waiting for? But shutting down that voice in the back of my mind screeching “but it isn’t ready yet! And there are typos! So many typos! And it’s crap!” is still a struggle, even in writing these posts. It’s getting easier. I know that there are still typos, and I still go back to correct them, but hey, it’s progress.
When it comes to creative writing, I engage in a few different forms–historical fiction, fantasy, plain literary fiction, memoir, and drama. (And letters, if letters count–lots of letters.) The fictional style that comes most easily to me is fantasy, so I’ve chosen that as my first foray into publishing in my own name. The novel is called Season of Storms, and is the first in a planned series set in the same universe, which still lacks a name–I’ll give it one soon. Each novel will be a stand-alone story, but some will feature the same characters, and each will be a piece of a larger puzzle that culminates in the final novel.
I have about a fourth of the novel and a final edit to go before it’s ready for publication, a milestone I am determined to achieve by the end of 2016. Like Margaret, I need beta readers–I have a few lined up already, but I’d be ever so grateful for reactions to this sample of the beginning of the novel. You can access the text by clicking on the link below; please let me know what you think in the comments on this page.