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!