novel writing

Thanks, Mom, for not outing me

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Novelist in the making
Novelist in the making

My writing journey began at the age of four. My brother and sister had already started their school careers but being the youngest, I was stuck at home, resentful that I wasn’t old enough to join their ranks.

My mother was the fastest typist I had ever seen in all my four years. One day, fully mesmerized by my mother’s rapid-fire key pushing, I asked if I could try it out because I had nothing to do but had something to say. I lacked the prose skills to attack such an endeavor but truth be told, I was more interested in pounding on the keys than I was in making any sense. Two pages and numerous typewriter ribbon and key jams later, I completed my first manuscript.

In those days, my entire family sat at the dinner table to consume the evening repast. This was an opportunity for each of us to share what transpired during our day. With much frustration and boredom, I waited for my siblings to finish relaying the drivel of their scholastic school days so that I could read the magnum opus that I managed to produce in one sitting at the typewriter. Mom sat next to me, and looking over my shoulder said, “Irene, it’s your turn. I see you have lots written on those pages so you better get started.”

Mom and dad on their wedding day
Mom and dad on their wedding day

So I did. I launched into a magnificent story – the gist of which I fail to remember decades later – but I delivered this story with great conviction and a feeling of growing self-importance. My  mother silently read along with me, nodding her head as I read each paragraph, encouraging me with a smile now and then. A good ten minutes later I reached the end of my manuscript and with great flourish, I folded the pages in half and placed them on my lap. Mom and Dad were impressed; my big brother and sister dubious; I was in heaven.

Here’s a brief example of what my first manuscript looked like:

ashepigu  a;lskhg  iwyhasi8tq  cmiuqtgpigub  1tpdp

For ten minutes and two pages I read typed gibberish with bravado and my mother never gave away my secret. She didn’t out me. I am certain that Mom’s encouragement and acceptance of my efforts contributed to my infatuation with all things reading and writing.

For the past four years I’ve been in the ranks of writers who submit, get rejected, and submit again. I’ve written two novels, the first of which I queried (seeking literary agency representation) for a year – thus far with no success – and the second of which I’ve just started querying.

I can’t foresee the future, but I do see my mother looking over an agent’s shoulder, nodding and accepting every word I’ve written.

All gibberish aside, I can’t lose with her ongoing support.


An Artist’s Paranoia

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I’m one of countless artists in the world who work in solitude and hope for public acknowledgement some day down the line.

signs-1172211_640I happen to be a writer, fiction primarily, but there are many other artistic crafts: painting, drawing, sculpting, metal work, woodworking, stained glass, and on and on and on. Bottom line, artists create and hope beyond all hope that what they create is liked by the masses … or at least one person who is not related to them, or financially obligated to them, or otherwise committed to the person doing the artistry.

I belong to several writing groups on social media. A day doesn’t go by that one of us writer’s doesn’t post a rant or a tear-filled comment such as:

Okay everyone,  an agent requested my manuscript last week and said she’d have a look-see over the weekend … it’s now Thursday and I haven’t heard from her … Did she hate my manuscript? Did she even read it? Should I give up as a writer? What in God’s name should I do?

Sound exaggerated? It’s not.
I can’t speak for what it’s like to be an engineer or an accountant or a lawyer, doctor, bus driver, mail person, or what have you, but I can say that paranoia is many an artist’s primary personality trait. Consequently, we crave affirmation in order to continue doing what it is we do.

Remember Sally Field when she won an Oscar in 1984 for her role in the film Places in the Heart? During her acceptance speech she emoted that winning the Oscar told her that “you like me … right now … you like me.”

child-788784_640When that same paranoid author (three paragraphs above) is finally published, she won’t sleep at night without having read every review of her book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Publisher’s Weekly, etc. And for every bad review, she’ll forget the good reviews and the four or five stars awarded her masterpiece, which, quite frankly, is the manifestation of her heart, laid out in the open for everyone to spit and step on.

At that point she may as well give up sleeping entirely until she believes in herself, regardless of what the reviews say, regardless of her Amazon book ranking, regardless of whether someone returns her e-mail right away or not at all.

If artists believe in what they create, if their whole raison d’être is doing what they do come what may, it won’t matter what the critics say … well, it will matter what they say but she’ll still love herself in spite of it.

And if all of you wouldn’t mind reminding me of this fact now and again while I’m on this seemingly never-ending road to publication, I will be forever indebted to you … if it’s not too much trouble … if you have the time … if you think I’m worthy …

Click on these brief stories that describe my delight when a literary agent complimented my short, short stories, occurrences that made my day:

Complimentary words from a literary agent; Positive input from an agent: a welcome gift.

Do you believe in magic?

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Horoscope chartMy December 29, 2012 Horoscope:

Today is a 7.  Now’s perfect to start a new writing project; no need to wait until next year.  Put down your thoughts without worrying about form, one word at a time.

Prior to 12/29/2012 I would have stood by my belief that Horoscopes are merely faulty predictions by faulty people provided to those of us who are humored by such baseless declarations of personalized present and future outcomes.

But that personalized declaration for Irene on a day in late December 2012 was right on the money.

Computer stationThe backstory: During the summer of 2012 I made the decision to write a novel that focuses on the lives of caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.  The focus would be split with equal attention spent on the person with the disease.  My book’s mission: to put a personal face on those every day people (that’s you and me) thrust onto the memory-removing disease journey.  Once I made the decision to write a book, I set January 1, 2013 as the start date for my project.

That start date was moved up based on the extremely accurate Horoscope (see above) for this wannabe author whose birthday fell under the sign of the bull: Taurus.

I obeyed the directive and sat at my computer that very day and managed to write page after page of content.  Wow!  I’m writing a novel!  It was quite exhilarating being able to spew page after page of fictional story line based on experiences I had with my father, my sister-in-law, and the many people with whom I became acquainted during my years of work with vulnerable adults.

I finished the “final” version of my manuscript earlier this month and set the timeline for next steps: starting January 1, 2015 I will actively seek representation for my novel.  Oddly enough, that seems to jive with today’s Horoscope (2 years after the first timely Horoscope) if you force a few of the jigsaw puzzle pieces to fit what’s currently going on in my life.

My December 29, 2014 Horoscope:

Today is a 6.  Hide away somewhere peaceful and you can get some productive thinking in.  Inspire intuitive leaps.  Creative work pays well now.  Don’t squander an enticing opportunity.  Meditate on it, and your choice comes to you.  Nurture your physical health with exercise, good food and rest.

Glass Now TAMI guess I may as well get to it based on previous personal declarations that brought me to this stage of my writing career.  Seriously, why wait when I can do it now?

If you’re interested in how this all pans out for me, I hope you’ll Follow my blog for updates.  If you’re already a Follower, stay tuned for more predictions and/or fabulous outcomes.