Sunday, October 31, 2010

10 weeks, one manuscript, a 6-month old and a whole lot of pressure to make a dream become reality before it’s too late.

Before I get into the reason behind my 10 week deadline, I’m going to give some history about where this all began…

In late February of 2009, I went with a group of friends to celebrate my 2-year wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband, Bob.  I cut loose - so much so that I got drunk and broke my foot walking to another bar (it wasn’t entirely my fault; my stiletto heel got caught in the ever-so-charming cobblestone sidewalks Boston can be known for). 

Two days and two Doctors later, I was ordered to stay off my feet for 8-10 weeks.  Not much else to do besides read, browse the web, watch TV and listen to music.  That got boring quickly, so I started making stories up in my head.  In the shower one day, a story idea popped in my brain and just stuck.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  So I hobbled back to my computer, starting typing and didn’t stop.  6 weeks later, Unnatural was born.  For a couple of months I edited, revised and read it over and over.  I found out I was pregnant that August, and put my manuscript away, planning to revisit it with fresh eyes 3 months later.  I continued to jot down ideas for a sequel, my mind brimming with thoughts on where else I could go with my protagonist’s story.

Fast-forward to April when my son Jack was born.  Having a child puts many things in perspective.  Not many people know this, but Bob and I tried for almost 2 years to get pregnant. We had thrown in the towel just two months before the stick said positive.  It was a dream come true to have Jack finally and I knew when I heard his little cry, anything was possible. 

I also realized just how unhappy and dissatisfied I was with some parts of my life.  For example, my job – it stifled me creatively and intellectually.  Now I know, work is work and most people dislike their jobs.  But when a job brings you down to a gray, dark place (one where you dread Mondays to the point of tears, and have anxiety and feel sick until Fridays), it’s time to reevaluate.  I had to get back to my passions, like writing, and try to make a career out of something I love instead of working a job with no real future for me.  It wasn’t about me any more; it was about Jack and making him proud.  I didn’t feel like I could do that being miserable professionally.

I did my best to balance motherhood and my manuscript, and I was the happiest I had been in a long time, but my maternity leave from my job quickly ended and it went on the back burner again.  I went back in to that dark place too.  The only time I was happy was when I was with Jack, and I wanted to be with him all the time, to be happy all the time. 

If I had the means to pay my mortgage and give my son everything he needs and wants on just my husband’s salary, then I would have given my notice.  This is real life though, and that was just not possible.  If I could make a career out of writing, I could be with my son more, work my own hours (and when creativity strikes) out of the comfort of my home.  There simply wasn’t the time to make that happen though.  

My manuscript sat, nagging me to finish it.  I’ve had my share of days where I’ve hated it, days where I’ve loved it and days where I’m indifferent.  I’ve had more days where I’ve hated it, but no matter what I always go back, knowing in my heart that Unnatural is meant to be published and I can’t give up.  I had to find the time to perfect it so I could try to make publishing a reality. 

Just before Jack turned 6 months old, I decided to give up and retire my manuscript.  It deserved the time and presence of my creativity, and I couldn’t give it that.  It was a painful decision, but until I had the time, it was the only choice.

That brings us back to the present.  Thanks to the economy, I was laid off from my job last week – 5 days after I decided on retirement.  The first thought was ‘Oh my God, how am I going to support Jack and pay the bills?’.  Soon after, I was elated.  I get to be home with Jack and give him the undivided attention I’ve always wanted to.  The darkness that shrouded my complete happiness is gone.  To me, everything happens for a reason.  This was a sign.  I knew it and so did Bob.  We figured it out and it made sense to go for it.

With my severance package, I have 10 paid weeks.  And in those ten weeks, I am fully committing myself to have my manuscript, my creative heart and soul, ready to query (which is something you send out to agents and publishers asking them to consider your story).  Of course I’ll be browsing the job market too, but my gut feeling leading me to this decision is telling me not so fast, this comes first. 

And this blog is going to document my journey.

I’ll update my progress (especially with where I’m at mentally because I always battle the love/hate relationship I have with my writing) weekly.  I’ll hash out creative decisions, give away tidbits of my story, my characters and their backgrounds, and talk about my writing process in general.  I’ll also use it for my own sanity, to help me clear my head when I need to.  I may even ask for advice or opinions.  My hopes are to gain supporters and fans to cheer me on, because without support, this may be a tough road ahead. 

So with that said, let the countdown begin and stay tuned.