This week’s Giving Thanks is an easy one. I’m thankful for my writing community. Some are friends I’ve known personally for years, while others are just names and small pics in a Facebook group. But I credit all of them for keeping me going and getting me to where I am today: a completed novel requested and right now being read by two different publishers.
I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember. Not those kinds of stories…well, ok, maybe a few…but the kind where characters in my imagination go on adventures. I’ve always been intrigued by the stories I read in books and have always wanted to write one of my own. Over the years I’ve made several unsuccessful attempts but I never quit. Oh, there were times when I had to set aside my dream because, as we all know, life happens. I had children to raise, I went back to school, and then I had to work to help get them through college. But now that they’re independent and well-adjusted adults I’ve been able to turn back to my writing.
Then about a year and a half ago I met three women from WisRWA at an author event. I had just started writing “Mary Bishop”. It was to be a dark and twisty tale of revenge. Think Clint Eastwood spaghetti western where the main character wears a skirt. Not sure where all that anger came from that fueled that plotline, but that was the plan. Tina approached me after the reading and introduced herself, asked what I write, and I told her about my then new project. She suggested it could be a romance, maybe Earl wasn’t really dead. I told her no, he was definitely dead and I buried him. She said it could still be a romance and I replied that it was a revenge tale. She suggested I visit their next meeting and gave me the information. I said I’d think about it.
Well, I thought about it all the way home. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to at least visit their meeting. When I got home I emailed Tina that I would plan on coming to the next meeting. In the meantime, I kept writing. I struggled with the Christmas church service scene where Mary finds herself sitting next to her late husband’s best friend, Oliver. My thought was that his wife was sitting next to him, yet Oliver insisted on taking Mary’s hand during the service, giving it a light squeeze and smiling. Every time I typed that scene I’d go back and delete that part. I tried to tell him that was inappropriate, asked him what his wife would think of such a thing. His response to me: What wife? My wife passed away five years ago and I’ve been secretly in love with Mary Bishop for a long time now. That’s when I realized my book was, indeed, a romance.
As you know, I then joined RWA and WisRWA (Romance Writers of America and their Wisconsin chapter). Without my WisRWA group I’ve no doubt “Mary Bishop” would have floundered and become just one more unfinished novel in my filing cabinet. You see, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get Mary to tell me how she planned on getting revenge on the town of Deer Creek. I wanted it, but I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t write it, and that’s because she didn’t want revenge. She wanted to be left alone. Or so she thought at the time. In reality, she wanted to find love again.
Now I have a completed manuscript that I believe will be published, if not by one of the two currently reading it, then by another. I know because Mary told me the story that was truly in her heart and that kind of story always wins in the end.