I didn’t set out to be a writer, yet here I am just about to finish the second draft of my eighth novel. I started writing seriously at the age of 56. My parents gave me a typewriter for Christmas when I was twelve, maybe that planted the seed. I don’t know. At the time, I’d rather have gotten a hockey stick or tennis racquet. I did write some short stories back then, that have long since disappeared, but mostly I played sports.
I was born a story teller. As soon as I could walk and talk I entertained my aunts, uncles and older cousins with my versions of the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood. As I grew, I continued telling stories to my five younger siblings and then later making up bedtime tales for my own daughter. As she got older the stories became longer and more involved, sometimes continuing for weeks. Unfortunately she grew up, too fast for my liking, and eventually story time came to an end.
More than a dozen years later, I wrote out one of these bedtime stories, added some illustrations, put it into a cute three ring binder and gave it to my daughter for her 25th birthday. ‘The Dwelf Princess’ was in print. I’d had so much fun writing it I decided to do another.
The Dwelf Princess had ended up approximately twenty pages in length. I decided to put more effort into the second one and make a real book out of it, if I could. The first few days with the goal of writing an entire book was intimidating. Fortunately, I knew the story and it had a beginning, middle and end. As I plugged away day after day I got more confident. I eventually confided in a couple friends, retired teachers, about my venture and they were eager to help. When I finished the first draft of ‘Monsters or Miracles’, a sci-fi/paranormal adventure, I passed it on to them. I got a lot of good feedback, along with many suggestions, and an embarrassing amount of red marks regarding grammar and sentence structure. Thankfully, they hadn’t graded it. With that many errors a C minus is the best I could have hoped for. One commented that the story read like an episode of The X-Files, but for kids, and the other liked the story, however, he didn’t care for the character names I’d chosen.
For a brief while I considered turning the story into ‘The Adventures of Young Fox Mulder’, and although my lead protagonists could have morphed into childhood versions of Mulder and Scully, with some tweaking, I liked the characters too much, as they were, to change them. I got back to work on the second attempt (draft) of the manuscript. I found rewriting to be different and, at times, a slower process for me, but still enjoyable. I pressed on. The character names were changed, the plot was further developed and became more complicated. Xander and Yzzie became ‘The X + Y Files’. After the rewrite was finished I sent a richer, more refined story to my beta readers (I’d been perusing several writing sites by then). The feedback was very positive this time. Despite being more careful about grammar this time, there were still red correction marks sprinkled throughout the pages. I gave myself an A minus and learned a valuable lesson: it is difficult to edit your own work. I cleaned up those errors and now had a completed manuscript ready for publishing.
Or, so I thought…
Watch for part two: Elevator pitches or the stairway