Seventeen years. Yup. That’s how long it took to write Love, Texas — Population 2. Do you think that fits the definition to persevere?
verb (used without object) , persevered, persevering.
- to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.
In my case, I’d have to say persevering definitely describes me and my goal to write my first novel. In fact, I think “persevere” should be added as a third middle name of mine (in addition to Madonna and Louise).
You’re no doubt asking yourself, “What in the world could take a writer so long to complete a novel?” The answer to that is contained in the question: all the “whats” in the world are exactly what caused me to take such a lengthy time to finish my first book!
As in, what obstacles did I need to overcome in order to type, “THE END” on the last page? Obstacles such as physical setbacks, emotional exhaustion, job changes, and child-rearing.
Other whats included what direction did I want to go in the publishing realm: find an agent and a publisher to represent my project or become an indie author?
The biggest what of all was what kind of stories would I write now, since God woke me from a deep sleep–and told me to use the gift of writing He gave me to glorify Him?
What if I add another “what” to this post? Ha ha
To give some specifics of the “whats” above, let’s first talk about physical obstacles. Pregnancy complications: super nauseated, bedrest, induced labor; surgery after birth of second child. More physical impediments: breast cancer, bilateral mastectomy, reconstructive DIEP flap, resultant infections of operation wounds. Next came signs of other cancers: multiple procedures and undergoing the knife again took place.
Not only did I have numerous surgeries and bouts with illness (dang four-times-a-year-super-sinus infections!), but also multiple close family members made trips to the operating or procedure room or battled diseases. This included “biggies” like: my daughter’s multiple respiratory infections requiring bilateral ear tubes and breathing treatments; my dad suffering two strokes, multiple small heart attacks and two major ones; my husband undergoing “triple” surgery to correct sleep apnea; and my brother struggling with chronic pancreatitis and complications from diabetes. My concern for all my family who underwent these hardships wound up depleting a lot of my physical and mental strength. Which in turn did what? Yup. Delayed completing my manuscript.
A second type of obstacle that came about in writing the next big seller was emotional exhaustion. Not only from the illnesses mentioned above, but from all the times Death has knocked on the doors of my poor family. My husband’s grandma, my favorite aunt, my husband’s uncle, my husband’s only brother, my grandma, my oldest brother, and my father-in-law have all been taken away from us since I started work on Love, Texas — Population 2.
Line-of-work changes and job demands brought a third hindrance to meeting my self-imposed goal to getting published before I hit age 40. Moving to a different city, finding easy jobs close to home, switching to better paying positions after getting certified in medical coding, finding childcare to fit with the commute and work hours, dealing with changing contractors’ requirements, searching and obtaining an at-home coding job — these pieces made up the whole puzzle of that third hindrance.
The fourth bump in the road on the way to saying the final, final, draft is done? That would be what happens after a baby bump starts to show! Ha! Children-rearing responsibilities, the ones requiring the most energy and time (as they should) were teaching emotional, religious, and academic lessons to my son Jacob, who is now 15, and my daughter Shelby, who is now 10. Other hills to hike in raising my two active kids revolved around time-management: Jacob was in basketball, soccer, Cub Scouts, band, and attended church youth group meetings regularly. Shelby was in gymnastics, Girl Scouts, and is still in competitive dance.
A fifth stumbling block that kept tripping me up was do I find an agent and query the big publishing houses, or do I self-publish? Back in the day, there was no question that a successful writer had to have an agent and publish her work through one of the Big Six (now Big Five) publishers. Then, about six or seven years ago, self-publishing started to become popular, and every year since then it’s become more and more popular. It’s also become easier and easier for writers to publish their books, and at no or minimal cost to themselves.
Many writers, myself included, love the advantages that come with being an indie author. You can keep the title you chose for your manuscript, design the book cover to your liking, lose the restrictions of following a line’s specific requirements, set your own deadlines, and keep a much higher percentage of the profit. Weighing the pros and cons of “regular” versus indie publishing stunted my career growth because it wasn’t until very recently that I decided to go indie, so I spent all these years trying to write Love, Texas — Population 2 in a style that would fit particular publishing houses’ specifications.
The sixth “what” in the world that postponed a party to declare “I’m done!” was I went from writing a sort of risqué women’s fiction novel, to a little-bit trashy contemporary romance, to a less-trashy romance, to a Christian romance.
When I first started writing this book, I no longer believed in God. I gave up on Him and stopped any religious practices years earlier. (This subject will be covered in-depth in my next Musing Monday blog post.) Without God in my life, I had no qualms about going along with what “this world” deemed as acceptable and “the norm.” As a result, the first drafts of my manuscript I guess could be summed up as the trite, but unfortunately true saying, “Sex Sells.”
After I was saved, the way I wrote slowly, but surely, changed. The more church services I attended and Bible Studies I took, and the more conversations I had with believers, the more my writing really took a turn — for the much, much, much better.
So, now you know what in the world could take a writer so long to finish a novel. Or, better put (and funnier), pretend you’re talking to character Gus Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. His response to my explanation would be:
“There you go.”