For me, writing has been a spiral track. I have written non-stop for hours, and been too terrified to open my laptop for months. I have pantsered into plot craters, and delighted my inner critic with unexpected plot twists.
Five years ago, I wrote “Stormy Hawkins.” To save her South Dakota ranch, a shy, hard-working woman hires, then falls in love with, a hunky hand, who turns out to be a rich speculator intent on taking her land. The plot features kidnappings on dangerous Missouri River riverboats, and betrayals in St. Louis’ high society. I submitted to several contests, and received scathing reviews. Poor execution.
Mortified by my ignorance, I enrolled in Writers Digest fiction classes. For the advanced class, I wrote “The Bride Wore Black,” a time-travel. Career-minded Angel Foster is wooed by a fellow teacher, French-sexy Jeremy Dumont, who swears she is the love he has been seeking his whole life. Just when she softens to his advances, a student accuses him of fathering her unborn child. Unsure what to believe, Angel is seriously hurt in a suspicious car accident. Captured by a spell chanted by Celtic priest Jermande du Montfort (Jeremy in his previous life), she wakes up in 1400’s Brittany in her previous life body. As Angelique, she is betrothed to the sadistic cousin of the King of France, who is determined to wipe out Celtic culture in Brittany (a practice that continues to this day). Angel needs Jermande’s help to get back to the present, back to the bargain she struck with him in the past that will define her future.
I sent it to an agent, who wrote a personal rejection letter outlining my story’s weaknesses. Not a traditional time travel. Bleeding profusely, I dove back into classes and books, determined to right my wrongs. Over time, I concluded I had two stories. Unable to dismember my baby, I outlined a suspense about an herbalist determined to prove her father did not murder her mother, and the new physician’s assistant at the prison who feels he will never redeem his life after a drunk driving accident cost him his full medical degree.
I was too unconfident to start writing this one. It was safer to say I do not yet have the skills. I turned to writing weekly essays for my CSA. These have been well received; a local newspaper reprints them. Several have been published in a national magazine, as well as regional publications. Neighbors and strangers tell me how much they like them. CSA members ask when I will put them into a book. I am getting braver, and I think, better.
This brings me to now. I know the Universe is abundant. We get what we need, when we need it. An inner readiness to write a publishable novel has drawn me to this group. My pledge is already paying dividends: I am halfway through re-outlining “Stormy Hawkins.”