On my Home page, I stated the premise of my website was to promote my book. However, it goes beyond this, it is an introduction to who I am. I am not narcissistic enough to believe I am someone special, although I have had a remarkable life. My life was a combination of heartbreaks and ecstasies. Many of my experiences left unhealed scars and some came with lessons learned. So why do I write?
It all started about six years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. My doctor advised me the treatment would likely be debilitating. This would make working full time difficult. Since I had anticipated retiring in the next year or two, I took an early retirement. I did not want to sit at home feeling sorry for myself or sit and watch mindless TV.
Both my closest friend and my husband had encouraged me for years to write about my life. I had shared much of it with them, but I hid more. They felt if I would write those stories, it would excel as a book. However, in my mind, I was not a writer. I looked at the project as a monumental task and I had no self-confidence I would succeed.
I never gave it a thought that I had been writing for years. The last 25 years of my career, I was the Budget Manager for division of Palm Beach County government. Every year I wrote and distributed a budget document. It gave the taxpayers our goals, objectives, and financial plans. My budget document won awards from Government Finance Officer’s Association. I reviewed peer budget documents submitted for that same award. Without my admission, I was a writer.
My days between my cancer treatments when I felt well enough, I would sit out on our lanai with my laptop and write. I started with outlines and then filled in with detail. I read a book for novice writers. It said just write without worrying about grammar, or punctuation. I did exactly that.
I spent my days lost in writing. My focus was not on my health status and my mind paid little attention to the side effects of the treatments. I was self-absorbed getting my story written and became oblivious of what went on around me. Hours, days, and weeks melted, as I felt compelled to continue the writing project. The volume of material grew to an outrageous amount, yet I continued to write.
This went on for over eighteen months. The writing was a progression from childhood into adult and on. One day, I forced myself, to determine how far the story really needed to go. I had written over 40 chapters and in excess 700 pages. I had not stopped to review or edit any of the material. When I realized what comprised the draft, it stopped me cold. Where do I go from here?
I returned by starting at the beginning and reading what I wrote. I realized I had captured the detail and the emotions of each incident. Although, I had a draft, it was anything close to being publishable.
I went to the Internet to educate myself on writing techniques, grammar, and punctuation. I became overwhelmed and then despondent. Between attempting to educate myself, I started my first rewrite. A year later, I had a manuscript that was 32 chapters and over 500 pages in length. I had the manuscript printed and spiral bound. I even created a cover page. I was proud of my accomplishment, yet I also knew I had a long ways to go.
With the several printed copies I had, I gave them to individuals I trusted. I ask if they would read it and give me an honest opinion. The consensus was the story was captivating and overwhelming. What they also agreed upon was it needed editing. What astounded me that each felt my story cried to be published. Now what?
Talking with my good friend, she recommended I take a couple of writing classes. I did take two writing courses and then an editing class. When I completed the courses, I could not wait to tackle the project again. While organizing a plan, I decided to pull the area dealing with Vietnam. Although significant in my life story, it was not cohesive with the theme of the rest.
I also planned to test the market by completing the Vietnam story first and then publish it. I was hoping the public would accept my writing style and story. It would give me the inspiration to continue with the rest of the manuscript. It was six months later I self-published my book, One Month, 20 Days, and a Wake Up.
What began as a distraction from my medical condition has led to a published e-book. It is now on five Internet bookstores, I have my own website, and a marketing plan. The rest of my manuscript now awaits more edits. It is a work in progress.
When I reflect back on those years, I have gained so much more than developing my writing skills. I had carried an immense amount of emotional baggage without even knowing it. I had spent months and years putting those emotions and life events into words. By doing so, I had conquered anger, unhappiness, insecurity, and raised my self-esteem. That alone was reason enough to write.