In my last blog, I wrote about September and the anticipation of autumn it brings. Today, I write about what comes with October—not just any October, but this October. You see, I’ve been waiting on this particular October for many months now.
This October brings the reward for several years of diligent, passionate, hard work. Writing is work—thinking, pondering, imagining, researching, constructing, editing, and re-writing. Creating means hours upon hours of sitting alone with a computer and occasionally glancing out the window, hoping for new inspiration. It’s agonizing over a scene, or a section of dialogue, or sometimes just one word. It’s that wringing of your soul, wondering if these words will connect with a reader. Writing comes with the torment of a new thought that wakes you in the middle of the night and robs you of sleep.
Even with all the laborious hours alone with my computer, I’ve experienced the joy of creating, meeting, and living with new characters, each with a voice and a personality. Getting to know them and how they react and respond reveals how the story goes. As I have said, “Writers of fiction all hear voices. We just write down what we hear and call it dialogue.” That’s a bit of a stretch, but not too far from the truth.
Solitude is a requirement for writing, but in the solitude is this extreme desire to connect—to connect with the characters, but mostly to connect with the reader. Therein is the power of the story.
On October 6, I walked into the Barnes and Noble in the Shops of La Cantera in the city of San Antonio. My palms were sweaty, my heart was beating a bit faster than it usually does on regular Tuesday mornings, but today was no regular Tuesday. My eyes searched those shelves as if my life depended upon what I’d find. It was nothing less than surreal to pull THE CHRISTMAS PORTRAIT off the shelf. Years of work, of waiting, of hoping and praying, and finally, I held the book in my hands. My breath returned, and I took it to the counter and paid full price for it. When she recognized that I wrote it, the clerk was a bit dismayed that I wanted to purchase it. I couldn’t then and still can’t quite explain, but it was something I just had to do.
I did not arrive in this new season of my life by myself. It takes many to transport a writer’s thoughts into readers’ hands, and today I’m so grateful for an Agent who has worked long and tirelessly with me, and for a Publisher who took a risk with this “gritty” Christmas story, and for the Sales and Marketing Staff who put this book in book stores and big box stores all across this country.
When I first had the audacity to start writing a book, I asked my good friend, Dr. Abraham Verghese, the writer of three-consecutive New York Times best-sellers, “How do you know when the book is finished?” He replied, “When it’s on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.” How right he was! So I can say today, “The book is finished.” At least this one is. Now, onto other stories and other characters to see what they will tell me and teach me!