A guest post to motivate, encourage, and inspire
A Thanksgiving Tradition
At the ripe age of 52 I decided to return to school for my Masters of Fine Arts in Writing. Our daughter was in college, and our son a senior in high school. I could see a window where my motherly responsibilities were declining. I had a chance to give my full attention to my writing craft.
Much to my surprise, I was accepted by my top-choice low-residency program: Vermont College of Fine Arts. Still, I worried. Was I too old to be going back to school? The program assured me they had students in their seventies. My own mother was 49 with an eight-year-old child (me) when she enrolled in college for her bachelor’s degree, a journey that carried her all the way to a master’s degree. If Mom could do it, so could I.
During my second semester, I pulled out my long-neglected novel, thinking I would pound out a few more chapters. My advisor had other ideas. You have to finish the novel this semester, she said. The idea of writing the whole book in less than six months seemed daunting, but I accepted the challenge.
My hours at the keyboard increased; housework and meals were delegated to other family members. Steadily, I plowed through chapter after chapter, moving ever closer to that elusive finish line. On Thanksgiving Day, while my daughter, son, and husband prepared the entire Thanksgiving dinner, I sat in my office and typed those magical words: The End.
I revised that same novel for my creative thesis during my fourth semester, working through the Thanksgiving weekend. The revisions were finished on Thanksgiving Day while my family, once again, prepared the holiday dinner. It seemed this was becoming a tradition.
After graduating, I began querying agents and collected a large pile of rejections. Some agents loved the writing but hated the main character; others liked the story but didn’t like the writing. No one wanted to take the book on. Then one agent asked for detailed revisions. I spent months making the changes, and she finally decided, no, she couldn’t sell the book. I was about to shelve my first novel when I discovered a contest by a new press, so I entered.
Although I didn’t win first place, the publisher wanted to publish the book–if I revised it again. For the next year-and-a-half, we worked through a historical revision and two structural/content revisions, expanding an 89,000-word novel into 105,000 words. The final words of the final revision were typed on–you guessed it–Thanksgiving Day while my family prepared the holiday dinner. That novel, Blood of a Stone, is being released by Tuscany Press in October 2014, first as an eBook and in December as a paperback. I owe many people for their help with the book, but in the acknowledgements, there is one special thank you: Larry, Genevieve, and Greg, I promise you will never have to cook Thanksgiving Day dinner for me again.
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