I write partly because it’s way cheaper than paying someone with a framed certificate on their magnolia walls to sit and listen to my deepest, darkest thoughts. Partly because I can’t find enough books to spark joy in me. They exist. Obviously. Some years back, I finished reading a novel and longed to read another just like it. A book that sparked the same delight. I struggled.
I found myself on one of those peer review sites that were big ten years ago. The challenge set was to submit the first three chapters of a ‘work in progress’ for feedback. The most popular chapters picked up a professional critique. I’d written nothing more involved than a shopping list, but didn’t let a lack of skill stand in the way. My story sparkled. It was the kind of book I would love to read. When most everyone else on the website was done they tearing it apart and telling me how bad it was, I tried again. I grew thick skin and kept going. I got my professional critique.
My reason for doing this is because someone once told me I could. I still can’t find enough books that spark joy. We cook the food we crave, why not write the books we want?
I’ve published a couple of novels – one coined in sufficient readers to pay for most of a fitted kitchen – a modest affair, but still. I’m done with being the weekend dad cheering their kid on at the egg and spoon race.
The story I plan to work on next is an idea I had a few years ago, when I wasn’t ready to tackle the subject. It wouldn’t go away, and kept popping back up, waving and suggesting twists and turns. I realised I could thread in my own experiences, and use the story as a way to draw a pen portrait of my recently deceased mother. In full colour, the way I choose to remember her. And because there are nowhere near enough mainstream novels that deal with growing up gay and feeling anything but proud.
Now is the time, mostly on account of how the pandemic has robbed me of my few social skills, and I spend more and more time far from the maddening crowds. But mostly because it’s a story that keeps nagging about how it wants to be written.