December 12, 2009

Waiting in (Joyful) Hope

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.


  1. I'm currently reading No Plot No Problem...a guide to writing a novel in 30 days. One day soon I'm going to do it.

    Writing the novel was an accomplishment to be proud of.

  2. Believe in yourself is perhaps a trite thing to say, but in practice, it is a far harder thing to do, so schmaltzy or not, I'm saying in support. Because I haven't even got a novel under my belt and I am having the same kind of self-examinations about writing and my artwork. It's a tough road to hoe, to put creative endeavors out into the world and await approval. But keep at it!

  3. Writing it is an accomplishment in itself, and for that alone you should be proud enough. But I hope you find a publisher all the same. Best of luck.

  4. Well, I wish I'd written a novel - published or not. I'm only just seriously thinking that I should get going and try to write regularly and with intent. I've wanted to be a writer since I was a child but I think I've been too scared to try. Writing is just so difficult!! Have you noticed???

  5. It is great to have this online writing group!

    Jen: Go for it!

    Barbara and Tracey: Thank you for the encouraging words!

    Kate: It is hard, but so worth it! I am going to post something else I wrote on writing soon!

  6. Rebecca, you could self-publish. I'd buy your book. And maybe those craft vendors in your area would carry a few copies. There is nothing disgraceful in self-publishing any longer. You can turn out a very nice product. And once you've sold a few, "real" publishers will notice. They are after all in the business of selling books.

    Kate, I find writing is harder when I am trying too hard or worrying too much about what other people think. I still do both all the time of course.

    Happy writing to all...look forward to future posts.

  7. Oh, it's so great to read this Rebecca!

    I'm halfway through my first novel, actually getting beyond the first three chapters and I cannot believe I can do this. I don't care if it never gets published. It's just amazing to know I have this in me!

    Thank you for sharing this. And I agree with Tracey, you should consider self-publishing, even just to have a copy for yourself.

    (Check out

    C x

  8. I have specialised in first chapters for as long as I can remember. If you have the self-control, motivation and direction to actually finish, I take my hat off to you!

  9. Thank you so much for visiting, Ciara and Matthew.

    I hope you finish your novel and are happy with it, Ciara! And thank you for the link.

    Matthew: I felt the whole novel before I wrote even a first chapter. I believe that is what it takes, at least for me.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!