Road to Publication: Mile 1: from blogger to writer

A few of you have asked me to share my road to publication, and since it’s been a long time since I’ve written about that, I thought I’d start at the beginning. Okay, not the VERY beginning, which was a poem about a turkey that I wrote in first grade and was published in my school newsletter. I’ll skip that, and all of the other poems I wrote through high school and stopped writing when I got rejected by my university’s literary journal. At that point I thought, Well, if even THEY won’t take me, I must be crap. So I summarily trashed my dreams of writing and decided to pursue a “real career.”

Fast forward a few years later, and I’m living in France with several long distance relationships: my family and a couple of romances. This was the early ’90s, and email still only existed for the military. I wrote long letters and faxes describing my life in France, and for Boy 1 and Boy 2 had to use all of my storytelling powers to keep them interested from far far away. That in itself was very good training. I found out years later that everyone had kept my letters because they found them so entertaining.

It wasn’t until I moved to the French countryside six years ago that I started writing in earnest. I set up a blog in order to keep in touch with friends and family. But as I wrote stories and posted pictures from my life in France, more and more “strangers” began following my blog until I had a good following of very dedicated readers. Some of them were writers and journalists. And they told me that my writing was good. They thought I should try to publish.

So I collected all of my France stories together and wrote them up into a book—a kind of fictionalized memoir. I called it “A YEAR IN THE VINES.” (Not a terribly original title, but it was meant to convey the content of the book in five short words. I thought I could change it to something more exciting if someone actually bought it.)

That took me about a year to write, grabbing an hour here and there away from my two toddlers and part-time translating and teaching jobs. I remember the evening I finally finished it. I had been writing in the guest-room bed, and when I typed that final period. I jumped up, ran downstairs, and began yelling to my husband, “I did it! I did it! I wrote a book!”

Of course, I had no idea if anyone would ever see it, but we cracked open a bottle of champagne anyway. And I consider that Mile 1 of my Road to Publication. I’ll tell you about Mile 2 (finding an agent) in my next post!

3 Comments to Road to Publication: Mile 1: from blogger to writer

  1. by Vanessa Petit - On January 18, 2012

    Dear Amy Plum,

    I am 18 years old and it is my dream of being a writer, would like to publish my own book that I’ve been writing, it’s been a year and I am reviewing it right now. I was wondering if you taken any courses in University or College on writing professionaly? Cause I didn’t. I am questioning to myself if I would need too? Considering I want to publish to the publisher like you did.

    Sincerly,

    Vanessa Petit

  2. by amy - On January 21, 2012

    Hi Vanessa,
    I took literature courses in university, and then when I was 24 I took a 1-semester class in writing at the American University of Paris. Maybe some of what I learned there stuck, but if so I didn’t use that knowledge for over a decade. (I was over 40 when DIE FOR ME was published!)

    But I know that authors like Veronica Roth got a degree in writing. So I’m sure it would come in handy!

    Good luck with your book. But even if you do not publish this one, keep writing. The first book I wrote is still unpublished. You’ve just got to push past it and keep going!

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