On Taking Risks and Doing Scary Things

It’s been a bit quiet over here at This Catholic Family for the past week. And there’s good reason for it.

I’ve been working on something… a project on the side for some time now. And I recently reached a point where I was nearer the first finish line (more on that in a moment) than ever before.

Readers of this blog may have surmised that writing is something I enjoy. And it’s true. I love writing so much. It’s my favorite. Since Mary was born, I’ve been enjoying writing on this blog and contributing to other publications. Some of which you’ve seen, and others which are in the works. When I’m writing I feel like I am entirely myself. It’s always been that way. I still have stories and journals from my childhood. It’s part of who I was made to be.

And many moons ago, while I was a Creative Writing major at UW Milwaukee, I wrote a short story. It was an interesting short story, and it stuck with me over the following years. I dabbled with the idea of continuing the story onward, thinking there might be more to tell. I wrote snippets here and there, but it was all kind of random and non-cohesive.

Then I sat with about 25,000 words of a partial novel during the five years between when Felicity was a baby and Mary were born. I went back to work. Things were busy. But, this January, at the encouragement of my husband, I decided I was going to finish.

Fast forward to working on this blog, and also working on the novel in any moment I could spare. Evenings/weekend hours at Starbucks. Naptimes and quiet moments throughout the day. Literally anywhere and anytime I could.

It was terrifying. Still is. What if I put all that work in and the whole thing ends up being utter hogwash? What if I’m like the writer version of those people who audition for American Idol and think they are really good at singing but are actually tone deaf? It takes a lot more time to write a novel than it does to write a blog post, and you put so much of yourself into this massive work that the fear of it being awful is almost enough to make you stop.

But I just told that voice to quiet itself down as I sat in a chair or on a couch and wrote the next scene. Then the next one. And, before I knew it, I could see the finish line. I could count on one hand how many scenes I had left to write. So I hunkered down over the past couple weeks and got the first draft finished.

Yes, I have written a novel. It is a solid 99,000 words. Speculative Fiction. Elements of Magical Realism. Upmarket appeal.

The reason I said I’ve reached the first finish line is because I’m about to be knee deep in revisions. I think I have a pretty good idea of what needs tweaking, and will be spending the next three weeks or so gutting and cutting, and refining and shaping. Then, once I’ve done my absolute best, it’s off to a handful of Beta Readers, who I hope will give me additional feedback.

The next step is to start querying literary agents. Which is a whole ‘nother big situation that requires research and work.

So, while it feels like I’ve accomplished something kind of big, there is still a long way to go. But I love this story. I love the people I’ve had in my head for so long, and that what happens to them is finally out on paper. I’m going to give myself a solid year querying agents, and, if I need to at that point, will pursue self-publishing. Because I think this is a story that is worth being told.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, or anything else I have written, stay tuned. I’ll still be writing actively on This Catholic Family, but will also be launching a professional website for writing-related things in the coming months.

I hope I continue to have the courage to do scary things in my life. And I hope you do too.


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