After years of writing, revising, editing, and refining, my novel is a wrap. I recently signed a contract with a publishing company. Depending on how quickly the gristmill grinds, Dancing Between the Beats will be a hold-in-your-hands, honest-to-God book (and an e-book) by the end of 2019, or possibly early 2020.
It was eight years ago, just after my mother passed, that I wrote the first rough draft of DBTB. Eight years is one hell of a long gestation period; elephants, move over. Trust me when I say that my book launch party will involve popping multiple corks on multiple bottles of champagne. And cake. There must always be cake.
I’m thrilled to pieces about entering the publication phase, but I find myself in an unexpected emotional lull. I miss my characters. I almost feel abandoned. For years their thoughts, interactions, incessant chattering, and complicated personal situations consumed a huge part of my daily life and led to many nights of insomnia. I’m a bit lost without my fictional family.
But as retrospection replaced feeling aimless, my melancholy train of thought soon jumped the tracks and headed in a more positive direction. I started thinking about how and when I rediscovered creative writing. I’d left my position as a technical editor and was actively taking care of aging and ailing parents. Writing alleviated stress and provided an avenue to work through emotional issues. Writing from home eventually became a dream job, replete with autonomy and without the hassles of multiple bosses, snippy co-workers, an alarm clock ringing at ungodly hours, and a steering-wheel-gripping commute.
Writing is a solitary a pastime, perfect for us introverts, but you can’t develop breadth and hone your craft in a vacuum. So, with more of a shove than a nudge from a writer friend, I signed on for an advanced, special projects class at Pima Community College. The class was geared towards those writing fictional novels, nonfiction books or memoirs. I was then invited to join a writer’s group where I began to develop the belief that I actually could take my third novel from rough draft to finished manuscript. Along the way I took another PCC class—an intense, literary magazine workshop— where I could use the editing and writing skills I’d left at the office. My writing journey has been one of self-realization; a process I hope will continue. Looking back, my personal gestation period has been longer than that of birthing a novel.
The next few months will include revisiting my characters as my book is published and promoted. But for now I have to let my DBTB friends go and hope they find their way into other hands and hearts. It’s time to rummage through my “bits and pieces” file of unfinished ideas, and litter my way-too-clean writing desk with signs of work in progress. Writers have to write, not wallow.