Nobody was more surprised than me when I finished and published my first novel at the age of 72.
I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that it took me 11 years to do it.
My initial motivation for starting to write this book was a dream I had. Why I dreamt what I did is beyond me. Why do we dream the things we dream? Sometimes dreams do connect to what’s going on in our lives, other times, they come out of left field and make no sense. The part about this dream that amazed me is the way it stayed with me all day. I found myself thinking about it while I got ready for work, while I was at work, and after I got home and was making supper. I kept thinking, “There’s a story here, I could write a book about this.”
After cleaning up the dishes, I went upstairs to my computer and started writing. Once I got started, the story began to pour out. I wrote and researched almost non-stop for several weeks. I had to put a pen and paper by my bedside as my thoughts about the story were pervasive, often popping up just as I was going to sleep and as I was waking up. I kept a notebook by my bed and in my purse because, through my workday and on weekends, ideas just kept coming. I was scared I would lose them if I didn’t write them down right away. I found myself immersed in the story. It was a bit scary and definitely exhilarating to be so driven to write.
As my story developed, my motivation started to change from just telling the story in my dream to examining how a relatively well functioning family would deal with the white hot emotional crisis presented to them while supporting each other and coming to love a vulnerable child who desperately needed them. I became the reader of my novel as I was writing it. I said to myself, “This story better end well or I won’t be happy with this book!”
Then I retired and my whole life changed. I was about 75% done and I dropped it. We started to travel and were embarking on a decision to move to a new location. I found myself in a bit of a whirlwind. After an eight-year hiatus, I picked my book up again about a year ago and told my husband I was determined to finish it.
Given that I have never written a book before, I had a great deal to learn and a huge lack of confidence. I have many people to thank for their encouragement and help. A good friend was the first person I disclosed my story to when it was only five chapters long. After she read it, she was so encouraging and convinced me that I should keep going. My family were encouraging but they’re my family. My cousin did the first edit of my whole book and gave me the confidence I needed to be able to share it further.
Then I met a local published author at the Lacombe Writers’ Group and dared to ask her to read it and give me her thoughts. Her words were so encouraging. “Congratulations on a fine compelling story. You’ve done a terrific job in building a set of compelling characters who are struggling with emotional upheaval and a startling new set of circumstances.” I suspected she too was being very kind but she followed that up with some wise advice on how to improve it. This gave me the courage to take the next step to seek a publisher.
Still not fully convinced, the first thing I asked for was an evaluative edit prior to signing a contract to see if my book was worthy of publishing. These were some of the editor’s words. “The stakes are huge and they rise as the story unfolds… and there are twists and turns and a pace that keeps me turning the pages. I heartily enjoyed this book.” Again, I was sure she was being kind but she did convince me to take the publishing leap. Now my readers will be my true evaluators. That’s the scary part! But I’m starting to get some very encouraging feedback.
A Critical Human Error is based in Western Canada which may attract some readers. Events take place in Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie, Calgary, Kelowna and Vancouver.
Join us next week for a Mirror interview with Glasier!