When I started writing The Woodlands there was no slip of a concept that it would be a book. I had the simple idea, what if you woke up pregnant and didn’t know how it had happened?
There was no plot outline, or even an idea that it would be a book. I wrote the whole story around the one scene where Rosa was surrounded by creepy doctors in a sterile, stale environment, that ended up being right in the middle. I wrote that scene first then the first chapter and then went back to writing from the middle of the book again. I wrote back and forth until I caught up to the middle and then wrote the last quarter.
I know it sounds very confusing and it was for a while but it gave me a good idea of where I wanted the story to go since I already had a pivotal scene to aim for.
I was a woman possessed, ignoring the three children tugging at my arms and then pulling my wheeled chair away from the computer, screaming ‘feed me!” I completed the first draft for The Woodlands in eight weeks. The bath overflowed several times, pasta was often over cooked and the kids watched way too much TV in that time but at the end of it I had this massive stack of paper. A book 320 pages long.
I handed it to my sister nervously and waited for her to read it, making her send me texts after she’d finished every chapter. She finished it, she loved it, and I thought, ‘ok, I’ve written a book. I guess I should get it published.’
I wish I had known more about the publishing industry before I tackled it. I knew it was a rough draft but I thought that’s what editors were for. I didn’t realize my manuscript needed to be polished and perfect before I sent it off. So of course, what followed were several rejections. But I was lucky, I wasn’t getting form rejections, I was getting the ones that said ‘your writing has potential you just need to work on dot, dot, dot…’
After devastation came the realization that personal rejections were unusual and that this was good sign. I took the criticisms I was offered and set about revising my manuscript, expanding my first chapter out over four, adding dialogue and fixing up plot points. Doing this word-by-word polish was tedious at times but gained me an intimate relationship with my characters and my writing. But I still start sentences with ‘but’ and I still forget where the commas go!