Everyone has a story.
We all have at least one book within us.
These are phrases I have heard bandied about a lot over the years.
And they are very true. We all have something within us that we could tell.
But can we all write that book?
I’d like to invite you on my journey. I’m part way through it, hopefully nearing the end, to be honest, but in order for you to experience it all with me, I thought I’d share the long and winding road I have followed to get here.
The Story of My WIP
As a mid-twenties girl, about to embark on my own marital journey, I had an idea.
It was the bones of a story for a novel.
Everyone has a book inside them, so they say. Maybe this was mine!
I started writing this story in 2000, not realising the journey I would go on whilst this book was being written, both as a person, and a writer.
I managed to write around 6,000 words before the day I said “I do”.
The first year of marriage was busy. Not hard, but different to the life I was used to. It left no time for me to be faffing around with pen and paper or a computer.
But I could hear that floppy disk calling me… yes it was that long ago that my work was on floppy disks, later saved onto CD-ROMs. Way before the pen drives and clouds we are used to now.
I remember telling my Hubby Dearest about this book thing that I had started. He showed a little interest, and actually he even bought me my first laptop for me to continue my writing.
I printed what I had written and got a colleague to read it. She was encouraging and it spurred me on, I had an aim for getting 1,000 words done a night. That way within a few months I could have completed my book.
But life isn’t always that easy, is it?
Being a daughter in law meant I had certain responsibilities, including helping arrange my brother in law’s wedding, coupled with the fact that we wanted to start a family.
I tucked my book up for what I hoped was a short while, at around 13,000 words.
And there it languished, this time on a CD-ROM, for many years.
Sister-in laws came and went, and my own two children took up a lot of my time, leaving that poor WIP gathering computer dust… My literary creativity was at an all-time low. Non-existent. But I still read feverishly and enjoyed sharing children’s classics with my own kids.
Around fourteen years after I started writing this story, blogging came into my life, changing it completely!
My creativity was ignited again. I was responding to writing prompts and enjoying the whole process of moulding words into little literary artworks.
I was in touch with people like me. Bloggers who were writers, writers who were authors, poets, both. It was another world, this Blogisphere, and I loved it!
Again, my WIP whispered to me… “Let them read me… maybe you’ll want to finish me too…”
So, I took that step.
I published the first seven chapters of my story, on a weekly basis, to get the feedback from all these amazing writers out there.
And the feedback was so positive. There was a thirst for the next chapter to be posted, and the story seemed to hit a note with those who wrote it.
I just had to finish it. So many people wanted to know what happened next, and I didn’t even know that, as I had not really planned my story in such detail.
But, for writing, you need time. I saw two NaNoWriMo annual sessions pass and was gutted that I couldn’t take part in it. November is a busy month for a teacher. It just wasn’t happening.
I managed to squeeze in publishing a poetry book though, which I found simple, as I had so much material to use, but the writing… there just wasn’t the time!
By now I also had a small cavalry of authors who were also encouraging me to get back into writing.
I made a decision then.
If I couldn’t take part in the official NaNo, then I would do it myself.
I gave myself a target of 50,000 words, and chose the month of August to have my very own #RiNoWriMo – Ritu’s Novel Writing Month.
School holidays, and children who were older and able to keep themselves entertained, meant August was the best time for me to write.
It wasn’t easy, but I prepared myself by rereading all that I had written, correcting silly mistakes as I went along. I invested in a huge whiteboard which I decorated and made into a storyboard, and really planned my story, did character profiles, checked out locations etc.
It was all rather real!
And I wrote.
Boy, did I write!
During the month, I posted weekly on my blog, But I Smile Anyway about the progress of the novel, and whether I had hit my own targets.
My followers became my accountability partners, along with emails and messages from a few close blog pals, and they kept my momentum going.
My kids even heard snippets of it and were always asking what was going to happen to various characters, showing interest in this story of my making.
By the end of August, I had a manuscript that was nearly 70,000 words long, and still not finished, but not far off.
I was mentally exhausted, but so proud of myself.
I couldn’t bear to look at it for ages after. Partly because of the exhaustion, but also because my work life was really tough at the time, and I didn’t want to be half-hearted about the ending.
A few months passed, and Easter holidays came. I decided to have a reread of the last few chapters I had written, and (am I supposed to say this about my own manuscript?) I really enjoyed it!
It spurred me on to write more, and by the second week of the holidays, and eighteen years after starting, I finally had a fully completed first draft!
The first day I held a fully printed out version of my first ever first draft, was a truly blessed day! (Even though I saw a spelling error on the first page, as soon as I looked at it, d’oh!)
Since then I have had three trusted sources read it, give me initial feedback, I have rewritten and tweaked it, and even roped in a wonderful editor who has given me her comments, and I am partway through my hopefully final rewrite!
I sent a couple of queries out, got positive rejection messages too, and even entered the Twitter craziness of #PitMad a couple of months back, where an agent was interested too! She read some, gave some feedback and asked me to get back in touch when my manuscript was polished.
And there is even a possible cover on the table, but not finalized yet, as there is still work to do.
From rereading and rewriting, beta reading and editing, then the formatting and cover design if I decide to self-publish or choosing to write my synopsis and send letters out to agents, in the hope of getting discovered by a traditional publication house, to actually holding a physical copy of my book in my hand.
As long as it doesn’t take another nineteen years!