So much support…

One of the hardest parts for me about finishing my novel was sharing it with others. I realize now that was all about my own self-doubt than anything else and luckily for me, the people I have shared it with have liked it.  That’s been good for my self-esteem for sure.

And while I have known all along that I have the support of the people around me I wasn’t expecting them to show that support in so many incredible ways. It has been such a great reminder that I am not alone on this crazy journey.

The day after I finished my book my mum showed up at my door with this:

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The card read: “Published yet or not, this is a huge accomplishment. Didn’t think I could be more proud of you. Congratulations! Love, Mum”

After that, there were texts and phone calls. Emails and voicemails. All with words of encouragement and support. Many with offers to read and give feedback.

Then there was this:

Then this:

When I finished my first novel – just in time for my 40th birthday – I did it for me. I set a goal for myself and was so proud to achieve it. And I have been overwhelmed by the support of my family & friends. First my husband had everyone sign a canvas with words of praise and encouragement for my birthday. And now my mum gave me this mock cover art for my office. I love it so much. Writing is so solitary so I'm loving the fact that the people I love the most are behind me on this crazy ride. ❤️📚 • • • • • #amwriting #amediting #womensfiction #debutnovel #fictionwriter #AfterTheBreak #writersofinstagram #writerscorner #womenwhowrite #writerslife #femalewriters #booklover #reading #books #writinginspiration

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How lucky am I? Now I just need to win the lottery so I can write full time. Always good to have a realistic plan right?

The first feedback…

A few days ago I hit send on an email that had been sitting in my drafts folder for about a week. It was a very exciting email. One that was 10 years in the making and was going out to some of my closest family and friends. To 8 people I love and know love me.

And it was the most terrifying email I have ever drafted.

The thought of sending it filled me with so much dread and doubt and uncertainty I nearly threw up.

These were the people I was asking to read my book. The first people that would read the novel I had worked on for 10 years. And I was terrified they were going to hate it.

It’s a crazy thing to share part of your soul…part of your complete being…with others. My book is my baby in a way that my actual babies couldn’t be.

This book is what makes me a writer. And I want to be a writer. I want to call myself a writer. But I want to have earned the right to do so.

And if these 8 people said my book was no good – in the kind and loving way I knew they would – it would mean this goal I had been working on for so long – for my entire life – was unattainable.

Somehow – when I was ready as I was ever going to be – I sent it. Then I printed off 8 copies and delivered them.

And then I waited – a part of me vibrating with nerves and self-doubt – until the first “review” came in a few days later.

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I could breathe again.

I heard my aunt laugh out loud while reading it and thought “I did that.”

I saw tears in my mother’s eyes as she read it and thought “Words I wrote did that.”

Another friend posted a picture on Facebook of her reading my book and people liked it.

And then I got this text:

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So while I still can’t believe anyone other than me has read the 89,000 words I have been working on for so many years, I can’t deny the obvious truth.

I have readers.

And that – by definition – officially makes me a writer.

 

I wrote a book!

In my heart of hearts I have always been a writer. Ask me to describe my perfect day and instead of a job I would spend my days writing novels.

Sadly I don’t actually live in this dream world and that means I have a job. And kids. And a husband. And a house. And responsibilities.

What I’m saying is that on my list of everyday priorities setting aside time to write isn’t high up on the list. About 10 years ago, after my first my first daughter was born, I was desperate for a creative outlet. And for time out of the house.

So I signed up for a fiction writing class at the community college. It was there that the idea for “After the Break” took root in my brain. I wrote the prologue and the first 4 chapters of the book in that class.

I was inspired by my classmates, I loved sharing my work. I was a writer again. It felt good.

And then, the class ended and so did my writing. I tried to keep with it. I really did but I didn’t have the weekly excuse to write.  “After the Break” went into a drawer for 7 long years.

Two years ago I found it while cleaning out my files. I read through it and realized that while it was rough – really rough in some parts! – the framework for a women’s fiction novel was there.

I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo and dove headfirst into the world of Abigail Lane.

And last night – at 11:08pm on June 22 – I wrote the final line of “After the Break.”

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It was an amazing feeling to write that final line. The culmination of so much time and effort and hard work.

My heart was pounding with adrenaline. I couldn’t stop smiling. And there was no one to share it with!

My kids were in bed, my husband was out with friends and it was far too late to call anyone.

So I recorded my joy and giddiness for posterity.  I figured I’d just keep the video to myself..but where’s the fun in that?

I wrote a book! from Kelly Duran on Vimeo.

So I wrote a book. That’s the easy part. Now I have to finish editing it. And then (gulp!) I need to let people read it before I start pitching it to agents or publishers.

I hope it’s good.

I really do think it is…but I’m prepared for the fact it isn’t and I will never get it published.

And even if that happens. Even if only my friends and family read it. There is one thing that will never change no matter what.

I wrote a book.

88,654 words of my own creation.

And damn that feels good…

Why I Blog (and why you should too)

I get asked why I blog quite often. And it’s almost always followed up by “How do you find the time?”

The answer to the second question is easy: usually after the kids go to bed and not nearly as often as I’d like. To answer the first is slightly more complex…

When I started Writing Down the Bones just over four years ago my primary motivation was that I wanted to keep a journal of my life. I wanted to chronicle my girls as they grew up because they were doing that way too fast and I felt like I was missing it all.

I also needed an outlet to get me writing again. The need to write is part of my DNA. I have always been a writer. In school I adored exams that had essay questions. I wrote for the school newspaper. I wrote stories for my friends and about my friends. I even wrote really bad poetry to boys I liked. (and usually never sent to them.)

But as I got older – and especially after having children – my writing opportunities dwindled. I felt like a part of me was missing.

So I figured starting a blog – and telling everyone I knew that I had done so – would force me (in a good way) to find that time to write regular posts. It would make me more accountable as I had an audience. Even if that audience was just my mum.

Finally, I hoped one day I would be brave enough to use my blog as a way to initiate a long-overdue change in my life. It took me 10 months of blogging about my kids, my marriage, my job and other topics before I was finally ready to hit publish on a very personal post about my body image issues. I felt nauseous hitting that button because I had no idea what the response would be.

Turns out sharing that post was one of the best choices I have ever made. The response I received was nothing short of amazing. People I had never met offered me support and encouragement. They shared my post with others. One even called me inspirational. I was truly floored.

It gave me a new answer to the question about why I blog.

I blog because doing so makes me a member of an incredible club. It connects me to a group of writers that are funny, interesting and inspiring. Their writing is readable and relatable because they are true and honest and open in a way that you don’t expect to see nowadays. I am truly honoured to count myself as one of them.

So come join our club. Start a blog. Write something. New members are always welcome.

 

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Baring My Soul…er I mean…my Novel

Last week – 9 years after starting the damn thing – I finally shared the first six chapters of my novel with 3 people. And it was one of the hardest damn things I have ever done.

Pressing send on that email did not come easy. I closed out of the draft several times before finally doing it. And this was sharing it with my mother and two best friends…my god…can you imagine the stress when I first have to share it with an agent or editor.

Or gasp…send it out blindly just hoping someone will like it! Okay…baby steps here…that’s a long way off.

I started this book when my oldest daughter was only a few months old. I was still dealing with the drama around her early arrival and my experiences as a first time mother of a NICU baby.

I took a fiction writing course and started working on the book – a women’s fiction (chick lit) book about an aspiring broadcast journalist whose journey to achieve her career goals are derailed by a boy and then a preemie baby.  I wrote 6 chapters in that class and loved the whole process.

Then the class ended, I filed away my pages and life got in the way of my dreams of making my novel a reality. Last summer I found the file, re-read my not so well written prose – and decided to resurrect it. I found the motivation to really dive head first into it by joining NaNoWriMo – where I managed to write 50,000 words in one month to make it into an almost book.

No one – other than the people in my fiction class all those years ago – had ever read a word of it. Until now. Now it’s out there.  Now it’s real because I have readers.

And the best part is – they like it. They really really like it. And not just because they are being nice to me and telling me they do – because we don’t have that kind of relationship. They would tell me – in a very kind way – if the writing was crap. Because I would want them to and they know that.

This morning I was chatting to one of my friends about her thoughts on the characters. And every single thing she said about them was what I had wanted. She was experiencing my characters, my creations exactly the way I wanted my readers to. She was questioning the right things, feeling the right feelings and it was – not gonna lie – one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.

“It’s so cool,” she said to me. “Getting to talk to the author like this.”

That’s me she was talking to…the author. Because…I’m an author now. And I like that feeling…

And even if it never gets published. Even if this first novel of mine never hits bookshelves or gets downloaded from Amazon I now have all the motivation I need to finish it.

Because my readers – all 3 of them – want to know how the story ends. And I can’t just leave ’em hanging.

 

 

NaNoWriMo Success!

I did it!  I wrote more than 50,000 words in the month of November.

51,117 to be exact.

I have to admit I almost didn’t make it…work and kids and holidays conspiring against me…but in the end I was able to meet my goal and keep my promise to myself.

Unfortunately even at 51,117 words my novel is no where near complete…at least another 30,000 words away I figure…but that isn’t the point really.  The point is that I set the goal, put myself first for a change and made it happen.

And what made my first NaNoWriMo experience all that more enjoyable was that my 9 year old did it with me.

She was successful too – writing 800 words more than her set goal of 1,500 – and I am so proud of her commitment to the task.

I loved our mother-daughter writing dates whether they were spent in a cafe while my youngest was at art class or in our own living room. There is something special about having your children share your passion for something.

What next? Well…I have to actually finish the novel…and then edit it…and rewrite a lot of it…and then try to get it published.

So maybe NaNoWriMo was actually the easy part.

Don’t Bother Me I’m Writing (NaNoWriMo)

November is National Novel Writing Month – known to those in the know as NaNoWriMo.

I’ve know about this for years but have never been able to commit…until this year.

This year – not only am I doing it…but my oldest daughter is as well.

Her goal: 1,500 words by the end of November

My goal: 50,000 words by the end of November

That’s 50 words a day for her and a whopping 1,667 per day for me.

It’s November 7. I’m at 8,448 and she is at 579.

Not too shabby…

Okay…gotta go…I have a freakin’ novel to finish.  See you in December.