Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My journey to become real

Maybe someday you’ll write a real book...

My journey to become real.

I haven’t told everybody in my life that I published a book, but of those I've told, about half have said, “Maybe someday you’ll write a real book.” 

I wasn’t offended, but I began to wonder, was my book a real book?  I had become the toy in the playroom looking around at all the other toys asking, “How do you become real?”

I used to write fan fiction.  I wondered what happened to the secondary characters after the story was over.  I used to think about them and worry about their stories, I would write about them, so I knew they would be okay.  I have dreamed of writing a novel for most of my adult life.  I have pages of outlines, and introductory chapters written, but never got beyond a few thousand words. 

One day an idea took hold in my mind, and a story flowed through me in a way that was new and different.  The story seemed to write itself, I just had to type the words.  I wrote for hours on end, ordering pizza for my kids rather than cooking a meal, called in favors for carpools if it meant I could write for another hour.  I typed away, creating a world and characters that called to me. 

When it was finished, I spent even more time editing than I had spent writing it in the first place.  I poured through websites and journals about writing tips.  I learned how to correct past progressive tenses. I studied my manuscript for head bopping and repeated to myself, “show don’t tell.” 

When I felt like it was ready I sent my manuscript to two publishing houses.  It was rejected.  It took me a long time before I read through my work again and sent it to a different publishing house where it was accepted.  I literally cried.  My work was going to be published.  It wasn't a matter of crossing something off my bucket list, it was the realization of a secret hope I had long harbored. 

Getting the email was only the first step, there were contracts to be signed, blurbs to be written, and questions to answer.  I agonized over every step.  I had more self-doubt after each step than I did when I was rejected!  I drove my husband crazy, pestering him with questions that he had no idea how to answer.

When the long awaited publish day arrived, I bit my nails, checking every hour to see if anyone bought my book.  I wondered if people liked it. Did they enjoy my characters, the world I created?  I worried that maybe I should have left out certain scenes, maybe added a different scene instead. 

My real life feels chaotic.  I have a teen and pre-teen.  Every day I second guess parenting decisions, and argue with one of them or my spouse.  I volunteer my time for charities, civic groups and in the kid’s school.  I am the CEO of domestic affairs.  I host parties and gatherings for my kids so I know what they are up to.  Most of my life revolves around my family.  It’s a choice I've made, and one I am happy with.

Whenever I have a spare moment, I read.  I always have a book with me, and now that I have them on my phone it’s a lot easier.  I read erotic romance, mainstream romance and mystery/thrillers.  I like books with a Happy Ever After.  I want to know before I open a book that when I close it at the end, the lovers will be in a committed relationship.  I want to know that the detective will find the culprit and the criminal will face justice.   It’s fantasy without dragons.  I've been married for twenty years and know the difference between fantasy and reality. 

Erotic romance allows you to dream of a man who will know your every thought, your every desire.  Every sexual encounter is beautiful and explosive. 

 In books, when they get away for the weekend, the hero and heroine don’t fight over the finances, or come down with the flu.  They aren't interrupted by their kids who can’t sleep.  Erotic fiction is fantasy in a way, but it’s the fantasy I like. 

After all of my self-reflection I looked again at all of the toys in the playroom, then I looked at myself.  I didn't need to wait for a fairy to blow dust on me to become real, I was already real and had written a real book.