This is how it all began for me: a call to story. When I was a child, I filled notebooks with words and images, and danced my stories in the living room of our tiny mobile home, then later, on the stage. Whether I was dancing, acting, or writing, it was the story that called to me.
Later, I studied journalism in college, worked as an editorial assistant, wrote newsletters, ad and brochure copy, magazine articles, essays, poetry, but the novel question always nagged at me. Could I do it?
So when National Novel Writing Month came around last year, my good friend Kate Antea gently persuaded me. The challenge is to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I had been thinking about this story for a few years. A story about the power of women’s friendship, about community, or the lack of it. So that’s how it started—this glimmer of an idea.
As I mentioned, I had the idea years ago, but there were articles and cookbooks to write in the mean time, along with a strong flirtation with romance novel writing.
Along with all of my other work in November, I vowed to finish this novel. I wrote around my deadlines and promotion commitments on my pie book. I wrote late at night. I wrote early in the morning. And when I was lucky, I wrote all day long. The next thing I knew I had a novel—or at least the first draft of one.
In the mean time my fiction agent, Sharon Bowers, of the Miller Literary Agency took an interest in one of those drafts (might have been the fifth) and coached me along to write even another draft. (Angela Miller of the same agency is my nonfiction agent, which is how I met Sharon.) The next thing you know, Sharon sold MAGGIE RAE’S SCRAPBOOKS to Kensington Publishing. Based on the first book, they want two more: a series of books. Pretty cool.
So I’ll be writing a lot more fiction over the next few years. But never fear, there will be more cookbooks, articles, essays, and so on. I’ve found that one often feeds the other. And it may work against me in some ways, but I refuse to just write one way for one market or just cover one topic for the rest of my life. One of my goals as a writer is to push myself to broaden my writing “vocabulary” through exploring different genres, topics, or venues.
Story is story. Whether it’s the true story about Mrs. Rowe, pie, my mom or the fictional story of Maggie Rae Dasher, the call is the same.