When I was in college I believed I was going to write the great American novel. I was an English major at a top liberal arts school, and I had taken creative writing classes. I had great dreams and notebooks filled with short stories. I sent them out religiously and watched the rejection slips mount up.
Undeterred, I got a job at a non-profit where I was able to write grants and public relations materials and eventually moved onto politics where I wrote speeches and direct mail. It was an exciting time. I met my husband, got married and had three kids while continuing to write scripts for videos and brochures. Still, as I watched my toddlers grow into school children then teenagers, I felt that urge to return to writing.
I went back to my old stories and read them with horror. After concluding I was not going to become the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, I thought perhaps another genre would be more suitable. This time I started writing about what I knew and what I had learned over the course of twenty some years: politics and intrigue, the city where I lived. I wrote a first draft, then a second, third, and forth. I went to writers’ workshops and joined a writer’s group. I listened and learned a lot from other writers who were struggling through their own first and second and tenth drafts.
It’s taken a few years, but I finally have a draft I’m proud of. It’s not the great American novel I dreamed of in college. It’s a very dark thriller called Inferno, and it’s set in Philadelphia. I’ve started sending it out and have gotten rejections, but my friends and family keep encouraging me. My writing buddies give me advice. They say it will happen. So every morning I get up and write a few more queries. I look for writers’ conferences. I am slowly starting to figure out the social media with the help of my terrific kids. I believe I’ll get an agent, but if I don’t, I’m not giving up. There’s always Amazon.