Friday, July 9, 2010

Overdunne Writing...a manuscript is born.

I love to write. I always did, but didn't really realize it until a few years ago. Like most people, I wrote through elementary and junior high school, but only when I was told to. Mostly I read. And read. And read.

In high school I started to write articles for the school paper, and then for the local newspaper. I penned deep, teenage hormonally-charged poetry and hid it in my closet. I started university with a full scholarship and the conviction that I was going to be a journalist someday. And, yah baby, I was going to change the world.

But then the practical side of me kicked in. I am not a city girl. The glamourous, exciting, adventure-filled life of a prime time news correspondent didn't sit well with my inner chi. So what did I do? I became a military physiotherapist and moved to Ottawa. Not a whole lotta logic there, but it's what I did.

And before I bore you with any more of my life history, we'll skip over about 15 years. One husband, one military release, 3 kids, 7 moves and a tumultuous physiotherapy career later, and I'm sitting in a village in the UK, trying to figure out how to connect with family and friends back home.

I began to blog.

And I liked it.

Now, if you've stuck with me to this point, you'll know that I have absolutely no fancy computer skills in the blogging department. But for an entire year I filled page after digital page of words, photos, and links. Dunnesinuk was a diary, and a connection to home. My then 92 year old grandmother kept a copy of my posts in a binder at her bedside. I tried to draw a picture of our crazy life, from my youngest's scary night in a Swindon hospital and her first insulin needles, to the Paris Metro, to tea with the Queen. And the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write.

Enter my eldest daughter. This girl eats books. At 9 she had read all seven of the Harry Potter books...five times. Our local British library tried valiantly to keep her in prose, but it wasn't easy. So (cocky me) I decided to write her one. Sure! I could do that! A cinch, really! A little Middle Grade fantasy...a bit of danger, some faeries and elves... why not? In amongst all of the diabetic insanity, military and social engagements, travel, and general family madness, I sat down to write my kids a book.

Well, needless to say, I didn't finish it as soon as I'd hoped. Nope. Another trans-Atlantic move and more of the same slowed me down. But I kept plugging away, feeling a little thrill every time I got my characters through another chapter.

14 long months after I wrote my first words I had a 90,000 word, 330 page first draft in hand. I gave it to my daughter. "Here, Sweetie, try this!"

SHE READ IT IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS.

"Momma, when are you going to write another one?"

Are you KIDDING ME?? It took me 14 friggin' months to write that and you scarf it back in less than a day? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Don't get me wrong, I was elated that she had liked it, read it that fast, and wanted more. But, Holy Cow!

So that was a year ago. I've edited out 20,000 words, and I've gotten my first polite, but firm rejections from publishers. My Twitter education (thank you, Twitter friends!) has taught me that I need a bit more polishing yet, but I wouldn't change a thing. I'm starting the search for an agent. I still love to write. I still love my manuscript. And some day, maybe someday, you'll see my book on the shelf.

Till then, I'll be here, sitting at the computer, with my kids reading over my shoulder...and a smile on my face.

4 comments:

TheWritersDen said...

Love this post! I added you to my blog list at the Writer's Den ... always happy to connect with Canadians around the globe.

Keep scribbling!

Michaele Stoughton said...

Just the other day I let my mom read my ms. She didn't move for eight hours. Said she couldn't put it down. That's great right? Still, it's strange after working months and months on it.

Dunnes in UK said...

Thanks folks! It sure is a learn-something-new-every-day-process. :)

Rachel said...

Brenda, you NEED to take a look at bookhaul.com. It might give you the exposure you need. They are having an "American Idol" type contest starting in the fall to promote new writers. Please go over and see what it's all about.

I am just so impressed that you wrote (and finished) a novel. That's something I've always wanted to do and my 40,000 words are still languishing on my computer waiting for a resolution. I keep telling myself that if Brenda can do it (with three kids, a busy career and a husband deployed overseas) then why can't I? The answer, I think, is sheer laziness :)

Good luck with the rest of the journey, and the new creation!