Satisfying My Longing to Write

Lately I’ve been captivated and inspired by author Jennifer Louden’s new podcast series, Create Out Loud. In one of her more recent shows, she interviewed bestselling Japanese-American author, Ruth Ozeki.  Ruth is the author of four novels. The latest, which she talks about in this interview, is The Book of Form and Emptiness. I highly recommend that everyone listen to this discussion which is about creativity, and approaching life with curiosity as we pay attention to the questions that arise. And to do what works for us, which isn’t necessarily what works for someone else.

One of the things Ruth shared was how she didn’t start writing fiction until she was in her 30’s, even though she had wanted to write a novel since she was six years old. Once she gave herself permission to satisfy this longing, she found that all her experiences leading up to that moment informed her writing in surprising and amazing ways.

Well, as an author who didn’t start crafting her first novel until age 57 (even though I had wanted to write a novel since the age of 12), I identified with all of what Ruth Ozeki shared!

Here’s how my own first novel, Dragonflies at Night: More Than a Love Story came to be . . .

In 2013, after a second go-round with cancer, I finally gave myself permission (age 57) to start playing around with fiction again. I would sit at my desk 3 – 4 times a week for an hour or so and “make up stuff.” It was great fun and satisfied my own longing to tell stories.  One of those little stories I was telling was about Savannah, a 30-something Party Planner, and Ben, a 30-something musical superstar. Their paths cross and a love story blooms. I found that I couldn’t stop writing their story, so I kept going! I was surprised to find myself writing a romance but I let myself have fun with it. And then.

And then one day I “heard” Savannah’s deceased mother, Deirdre Rose, speaking. She had a voice! She had something to say to her daughter, and that was when my spiritual connection to Dragonfly also “spoke” to me. That was when the simple romance turned into something else! And still, I kept going. But then.

In 2015, after about 150 pages, I completely stalled and stopped working on it/playing with it. I didn’t know what to do next or where the story needed to go. Was I really writing a novel? And if so, what would I do with it when I finished . . . if I ever finished? I let it go, but it always niggled at me, in the back of my mind, and I continued feeling a vague dissatisfaction, like when you leave home and think you forgot something important.

In 2016, I was fortunate to participate in one of Jennifer Louden’s amazing online courses, “Get Your Scary Sh*t Done.” It was an intensive series, but you can get the gist of her teaching on this subject here.  Long story short (!), putting those principles into action propelled me and my novel forward and motivated me to complete it. The process wasn’t scary any more because I was breaking down the project into teeny, tiny steps, and celebrating each step forward. She led me to get back in touch with my desire to write fiction.

In 2019, I completed the novel and published it in September 2020. A lot of left brain work went on in the year between completion and book launch, but it was fun and I learned a lot about editing, revising, book marketing, and how to gather a group of Super Fans to help me spread the word!

Now I’m knee-deep in revisions and edits for my second novel, Feathers in the Sand, which will be published this June. I’m allowing my previous life experiences to inform the lives of my new characters . . . stay tuned for more about Tess, Eva, Micah, Aunt Kit, Glory, Kalila, Jasper, and Carolina!

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