When I was 28 with three little children I wrote a novel. No, it was not the act of a supermom; I actually had the time. The non-profit group that had transferred my husband to Vancouver Island to open a new office had experienced a severe cut to their funding and so, the new office was the first to go and my husband's job with it. He was working from our home, a roomy four bedroom old place with a wraparound veranda (which, sadly we only lived in for one year), spending part of the day on a contract for BC Ferries, and part of the day job-hunting. Every day he would take a two hour lunch with the children and me, and that is how the writing got done.
The idea for the book came from a little painting I had done in the summer between my two years at UBC. The plot and characters had been simmering away on the backburner of my mind for several years and so the first draft seemed to spill effortlessly from my pen (I had no computer at my disposal) and was finished by the time my husband had found a new job with a much shorter lunch hour.
While we lived at the lodge on the North Island I worked away at my manuscript, editing and rewriting after the kids were in bed. When I felt I could do nothing more without an editor, and with the encouragement of a few knowledgeable friends and family members who had read my manuscript I began to consider sending my book to publishers. The first couple of rejections were a massive blow and it would take several months to recover from one enough to try again. Over the years I have received several different kinds of rejections: the impersonal photocopied list of reasons why or why not said publishing house would publish one's book, the signed form letter, and personally written letters from editors who said while the concept was interesting and the plot promising they believed it was not the right sort of book for their publishing house - strangely enough I found those ones rather encouraging.
The manuscript presently sits in a file box by the computer desk. Every once in a while I take it out, dust it off and read a few chapters, especially when I'm wondering if I really am a writer. Recently, I began retyping it in order to save it in a new format because my computer refuses to read the old floppy disc. I am realistic about my novel now. It reads somewhat awkwardly, some of the sentences gangly like a foal trying to find its legs, but I still love it. The characters still live for me, vividly like old friends, and the setting is the stuff of my dreams. Although it remains unpublished and is likely to remain so, my novel acts as the cornerstone of my writing life. As I try to do a quality job of raising my four rapidly growing children, support an overworked husband, work part-time at seasonal jobs to help pay the bills, I plug away at my writing, for now only having the time and brainspace enough to work at this blog.
My dad says it is not the writing that is difficult, but the waiting for the writing. As I struggle through the Advent of my writing life, my novel serves a particularly comforting purpose: it reminds me that I once had it in me to write seventeen chapters in the third person, and gives me hope that some day down the road, I just might be able to do it again.