Monday, August 12, 2013

Front and Center

On August 1, I began a new approach to writing. For the first time since I started writing seriously, way back in 1989, I found myself in the position to put my writing front and center. I guess it’s taken me 25 years to figure out how to do that. However, if I tell the truth, my situation has more to do with the fickle finger of fate than with any decision-making power I might have on my own.

In my early years, I tried to squeeze writing into what corners I could while teaching high school and raising three sons.  The result of that effort was quite unsatisfactory--I discovered I was not the kind of person who could get up at 4 am, write for two hours, then get kids ready for school, go to work, put in a full, hard day, coming home for the 'second shift' of cooking and laundry.  My writing would have to wait.

Finally, in 1989, I decided to quit teaching (!) and pursue my life's dream of writing.  However, though I did pursue it doggedly, I still worked part-time jobs to earn money and I still had one child at  home.  But, things were better.  I began to publish articles and short stories.  It was a start. 

A dozen years later, I earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and began teaching part-time.  I still had time to write and, eventually found a publisher for my first book, a memoir, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ.  That was six years ago.

The last six years have sent me in a tailspin personally; professionally, they have been stellar.  Some days, it’s hard to live with both realities. On the personal front, I have lost a beloved daughter-in-law, just months after she’d given birth to my grandson. My husband and I then invited my son and the grandchildren to live with us while they tried to cope with their devastating loss. My granddaughter was 5 and my grandson was 5 months when their mother died.  My attachment to them both is enormous.

I have watched as my son remarried and started a new life, watched as they all drove to this new life 15 hours away from me. Not soon after, my husband was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and went on disability. The very next year, two weeks after my debut novel, AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN was released, I was diagnosed with stage 3 uterine cancer. I spent last year recovering from surgery and receiving chemo and radiation. Thankfully, I am currently cancer-free and have great hopes of continuing to be so.

Professionally, things have been great! I’m with one of the Big Six, St. Martin’s Press, something I never dreamed would happen. I have an agent who has her thumb on the pulse of the publishing world and I was able to complete book 2, QUEEN ELIZABETH’S DAUGHTER, while dealing with the cancer—writing was the only thing I could do that made a difficult situation tolerable. The new book will be released in March.

I’m hard at work on book 3, which will take me in a completely different direction. Set in West Virginia in the 1960’s, this book is more literary than the previous books, whatever that means.

So, how did these events propel my writing front-and-center?

Though we need money to help compensate for my husband’s no longer working, I have not been lucky in finding a teaching job. I suspect my age may have something to do with that! But my inability to find a salaried position could be the universe telling me NOW is the time to write! NOW! 

If I am to be the main breadwinner, perhaps it is my writing I should turn to for support. As most of you who write know, there isn’t a great deal of money in this business unless you really hit it big. I do not anticipate such success—though, believe me, I remain open to it! What that means is, I must write more books. Lots of books—three or four a year.

That’s my motivation—my writing is front-and-center because I need the money and, thus far, writing promises to be my best avenue for getting it. I wish I could say I had the courage and determination to dedicate myself to writing—you know, the artist slaving away in spite of poverty and hunger…but that’s just not me. If I slave away, I want to be rewarded.

I’m giving myself one year to see how this new approach goes. Well, maybe 2 or 3 years. After all, I’ve waited a lifetime to focus solely on writing—the time is NOW!




  1. What a wonderful, inspiring post, Anne. I'm right there with you dear. xoxo

  2. Thanks, Amy and Ellen. I find it very hard to put that writing up front and center...I'm still struggling.

  3. Inspiring post. I'm glad I read it. Usually I skip the posts that are sent to me by email if they don't have an author. Can you please include the author's name when posts are sent to subscribers?

  4. Nice post, Anne! Wishing you the best!

    1. Thank you Lori. THis is Anne but I'm always anonymous...

  5. Fabulous post, Anne. You are, as always, my heroine! xox