This is my virgin blog post, and though my novel Blank is not out yet I thought I’d share a little about my road to publication. It was a loooooooong road, but worth it. I loved writing as soon as I learned how and knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a writer. I especially remember the thrill I felt when my classmates in elementary school liked my story Christmas on Mars and I read it to the class twice. I made an attempt at a novel in grade seven or so, about a girl who’s penpal from India just happened to move to her small town in Canada (oh, what a coincidence!). I wrote plays and poetry stories and started a magazine. As I got older, I spent less time writing – unless you count angst-ridden adolescent poetry – and became busy with life. You know, curling my hair and playing volleyball and putting together outfits with acid-washed denim and leg warmers. Then came university and jobs, and all that.
I still harboured the dream and dabbled in writing but didn’t get serious about it until I was in my mid-late 20’s. I wrote a middle-grade novel and sent it off to a few Canadian publishers, though I knew it was not good enough. It was turned down but a few encouraging rejection letters kept me going. My next step was the MFA program at Vermont College. I was thrilled to get accepted into the brief residency program, one of the best writing for children and young adults programs in the U.S. It opened up a whole new world to me. I finished my last semester with a newborn baby, my first daughter, in my arms while I typed away on the beginnings of what is now Blank. My daughter is now eleven years old, so that gives you an idea of how long it took me to finish this novel. We moved several times after graduation, had another beautiful daughter and I was a stay-at-home mom. So writing was not always my focus, but whenever I could I worked away at Jessica’s story. Finishing that book (all the drafts and revisions totalling a thousand or more pages) was the most difficult thing I have ever done with my brain. It was sometimes fun, sometimes excruciatingly frustrating, trying to get her story right. I spent a zillion hours on it, hours I probably should have been working out, baking, keeping in better touch with friends or out in the world like a normal person. Gene Fowler’s famous quote on writing sums up how I feel perfectly: “Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
But I finished Blank, and thankfully the people at Orca liked it enough to take a chance on it. And here we are. Happy day!