The other day I mentioned somewhere on social media that my current WIP has been over ten years in the making. On thinking back, I later realized that number is closer to twenty.
Why so long?
I’m glad you asked!
As a long time TV addict, some of my earliest memories are of me with a kitchen chair exercising along with Jack LaLanne, of singing along to the theme from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street, and of watching endless reruns of the classics: I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, That Girl, The Flying Nun…well you get the idea.
On my way to and from school each day I’d daydream about the shows I’d watched and would often try to switch them around a bit or make up endings I liked better. What I didn’t know at the time was where this habit would take me.
My wonderful partner JT Hume and I married young and found ourselves with three kids before celebrating our sixth year of marriage. I felt a strong need to stay home with them until the youngest started school and my loving husband agreed despite the financial hardships. Guilt and the need to maintain some semblance of sanity with three little ones drove me, not to drink, but to writing. I drafted pointless original stories on an electric typewriter (these were the pre-computer days) and tried submitting them only to be rejected again and again. In time, I took to writing spec scripts of my favorite TV show of the time, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and sent in so many that I was warned I could submit no more without an agent.
With the endless optimism and naivete of youth (I wasn’t yet thirty at the time), I turned to writing about another show, Quantum Leap. I found I could submit my work as potential tie-in novels and tracked down contact information. Once again, I wrote and submitted many different stories, only to be rejected each time.
Until I got a letter from a kind editor saying she liked my most recent submission. We corresponded, talked on the phone, and I even flew to meet her at a convention in Burbank where she introduced me around as a member of her writing “stable.” I finally felt I’d achieved what I’d set out to do so many years ago.
That story, entitled Royal Flush, stayed with the kind editor for quite some time. I waited and hoped for the day I’d see my name in print. And waited some more. Then one day I received a large envelope bearing the label of the publishing house. Opening it with trembling hands, I found my manuscript and a letter telling me the novel program was ending with a story more appropriate to ending the series.
Needless to say, I was crushed.
The manuscript sat in the envelope in my file cabinet before going into a plastic tub in the garage and being moved to two more houses. In the meantime, I’d gone to work for state government and no longer tried quite so hard to pursue my dreams of writing the great American novel.
I’ve toyed with the idea of getting back to my writing over the years without success. I participated in both Nanowrimo and Script Frenzy, but nothing I wrote made me feel the way I had when I was younger. I started to feel writing to be a part of my past I’d never be able to revisit.
That changed when I found and dusted off Royal Flush along with several letters from the kind editor. I read over the manuscript and wondered what she’d seen in my amateurish attempt to write a story I really liked about some of my favorite TV characters. I couldn’t publish the story as written, yet felt I might be able to go back and make some fun changes.
So now, almost twenty years after having met the kind editor at the convention, I’m working on the final edits of Royal Flush. The story has changed genres, characters, locations, and almost everything else, but I kept the title because it represents a very hopeful time in my writing life.
My hope is to release this into the world before 2015. In fact, I’d like the book to be a long-overdue Christmas present to my younger self. I also hope people might read and enjoy my world and characters as much as I’ve enjoyed the worlds and characters of those who inspired me to follow this path. No matter what, I’m enjoying the writing experience again and plan to continue on with this story as long as possible. When I’m done, I hope to dream up new worlds, new people, and new adventures.
Who knows what I’ll be sending out into the world twenty years from now…