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I have always loved to write. When I was a little girl, I wrote stories and poems, skits, puppet show scripts, and silly song lyrics. As a teenager, I kept a journal and wrote in it almost every day. I wrote more poems and stories, and even wrote two plays ~ one was performed (for our parents) by my Girl Scout troop, some other friends, and me. (I'd written myself the lead part, of course!) The other play was more personal, and I kept it mostly to myself, only showing it to two or three good friends.
When I was in high school, a friend and I came up with some general ideas for a series of children's books, and some specific ideas for a movie script. I remember thinking at the time how cool it would be to actually write the books and get them published, or to see our movie on the big screen. But then the two of us got distracted by things like college and boyfriends, and we never set our ideas down on paper.
By 1995, I had my college degree in social work, I'd gotten married, and I worked with kids full-time at a family services agency. The urge to write was stronger than ever. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really did want to become a published author someday, specifically a children's author. That was the year it became one of my big dreams.
There was only one problem. I had NO idea how to go about getting my work published. And then I came across an ad in a magazine, for the Institute of Children's Literature. The ad talked about the Institute's correspondence course (a class you take through the mail) ~ how the school taught its students to write for children and how to submit manuscripts to publishers. I decided to take the plunge and signed up! I'm very glad that I did. I learned so much!
During that time, I wrote several short stories, poems, and picture book manuscripts. I even had two short stories and a non-fiction article accepted for publication in magazines ~ I'll tell you about them sometime. One day, a cool idea for a longer book popped into my head, and I sketched out a rough outline for it.
Then it was 1996, and my daughter Emmalie was born. My life turned into hours of snuggling, feeding, changing diapers, and just being amazed by the new little human being in my arms. It's not that I forgot about my dream to become an author, but I did set my dream aside. I only intended to set it aside for a short time. Anyone who is a parent knows that time speeds up once you have kids, and before I knew it, that "short time" had turned into 13 years.
In the fall of 2009 when I was taking Ben, my youngest, to his first day of preschool, I realized that I was going to have 4 whole hours all to myself every week. To any kids reading this, that might not seem like a big deal, but trust me ~ it was. All of a sudden, the urge to write struck again.
I dusted off some of my old manuscripts, did some revising, and started mailing them off to publishers once more. I also took out that rough outline, decided that the idea really did have merit, and began writing my very first novel, a fantasy for middle grade readers. By the time Christmas rolled around, I'd written about 175 pages. I set it aside for the holidays, planning to get back to it the following month.
Can you guess what happened? I did not get back to my novel in January. Or in February. Or in March. In fact, I did not write one single thing (if you don't count Facebook statuses or posts on my family blog) for all of 2010. I still don't understand why I let that happen.
On New Year's Day 2011, I vowed to myself that this year, I would get back to writing AGAIN. By the end of January, I had finished the first draft of my novel, now almost 300 pages. I'm currently working on my third draft of it, and am hoping to start sending it to publishers later this summer. I wrote a fun new poem that I've sent to a few magazines. Then, just this week, I wrote a new picture book manuscript for the first time in 15 years!
And now I'm starting this blog. Among other things, I'm hoping that this will help keep me excited about writing and focused on my big dream....