This last year, the year of 2017, I wrote a novel.
From the beginning to The End.
I didn’t just think about writing
I didn’t just get all the bio’s out and then walk away
I didn’t just start a novel
I didn’t just dream of the perfect story
I didn’t just write 47% of a novel, or hit 31,094 words
Or even Bio, Outline, and Start a novel.
- Ya’ll (I’m not southern but this is a ya’ll moment)
- I actually outlined an entire FIVE BOOK SERIES!
- Bio’d out the main characters!
- and WROTE the first book!
- from the beginning to THE END!!!!!!!!!
- For the first time since college, I actually took an idea from inception all the way through to completion!!!!!!!!!!!!!And it was a lot of work.
And it took me 8 months. Not one. Not three. But 8. And you know what? I’m okay with that, because I did it! I actually did it.
GLORY BE TO GOD!
Here is the crazy part of this whole journey, 2017 is the first year in probably close to 17 years, where I didn’t actually set out with the intent and goal of writing (or rather finishing) a novel. I had done some serious soul searching in December of 2016 and had acknowledged that I just wasn’t in a place in my life to fully commit to the process and follow it all the way through. Three young kids, one who was still home full time, working part time, home making, and everything else just took precedence. I hadn’t given up on writing, but instead of seeking this grandiose thing that had really started to feel unattainable and achievable, to instead write casually. Small pieces, regularly. Like on a blog. Hence the birth of Andréa Lane Writes. I decided to make 2017 an intentional year of writing, but had truly tabled the elusive novel for a later time, a different season in life.
Basically, if my writing journey was a romance novel, I was the heroine who’d been longing for the whole shebang, to wake up one day and randomly get swept off my feet, fall madly in love and get married. Every day, each week, each month, for years, I’d eat, breath, and sleep with this end goal in the back of my mind but I’d finally stopped looking. I’d had enough heart ache to last a lifetime, admittedly self inflicted because most of my false starts were due to a major lack of self confidence, but heart ache and disappointment all the same. Instead of going through it all again, I set out in 2017 to let it go, and focus on me, grow as a writer through using my talents without the long term commitment or self imposed expectation. My relationship status had been downgraded from “Seeking Soulmate” to “Keeping it Casual” and I was good with that, but a few months later it changed again to “It’s Complicated”.
I started the year off strong, blogging several times in January and February, but by March I’d lost my stride, there were a few sermons at church where I responded to the alter call, going up to pray about my writing, I could feel the Lord calling me closer to Him, urging me to carry on, not to give up, to keep writing, to fall in love with writing again. About this time I’d been reading The Shower & Shelter Artists Collective Series, and Martin Family Series, both by Brooke St. James (**Note: These are not affiliate links, I just really liked these books and wanted to direct you to them in case you were looking for something quick and fun to read) and had fallen in love with the characters, the light, fun, flirty, and even predictability of the stories. In my mind, these books are really more like novellas (which I will admit I usually avoid because I want more character development but these had that so I kept reading) but the act of reading these 10 or so books in about a week and a half set off a spark. On a Wednesday night I’d asked my Bible study to be praying for me because I knew the Lord wanted me to do something, I just needed to figure out what it was exactly. Then Friday, while I was at a work meeting, a long time family friend/the pastor who married us, asked me about my writing, and I immediately knew the Lord was behind it. He went on to talk about his own writing ambitions and how he likes to break it down to 350 words, or one page, a day.
350 words? What? That’s doable! Much more doable than the 3,500 word/scene or chapter goals I usually set for myself during NaNoWriMo or any Personal Writing Month….Because I’d somehow come to think that if you were going to write a novel, it had to be done in a month (NaNoWriMo expectations gone wrong), and my best writing is done between 5:30 and 7:30 in the morning and getting up that early long term is realy hard for me. So, I started to think, maybe I could sit down and work on a novella, something flirty and fun, really light, 20 minutes at a time, until it’s done. The following Monday, a mere three days later, I find out that my daughter is eligible for free preschool, full day/4 days a week, preschool and can attend the same school as the boys, and ride the bus with them, starting in September. Mind you it’s April 10th, but still, the clouds parted. I could see blue skies, it was like a beam of light was shining down on me and all of a sudden I no longer felt like my time was coming years down the road, but like the Lord was showing me my time was almost here, that by September I’d have so much more time on my hands and the time to start preparing the fields for rain was now!
The next day, I was on my way to work, sitting at the light after leaving the babysitters and the words “Her name is Faith, but is that enough” floated through my mind. By the time I got to work, I had a faint, mental sketch of a YA series and a good understanding of the over arching plot and biggest obstacles my main character would encounter. Every spare moment I had went into brainstorming, and squealing. Even in the first moments of conception I knew that this story would be the story I needed to fall in love with the process and carry me through it, but also that it wasn’t going to be flirty, predictable, or easy. I knew it would be fun to write, and hopefully to read, but also deep as the characters and I, and hopefully one day readers, go on a journey together.
The energy coursing through my body was like none I’d ever experienced with any other ideas (and I’d had plenty of good ideas, had I just completed them, they could have been “the one”) but this energy felt like it was coming from the Holy Spirit it’self, pushing me on, encouraging me, showing me that the Lord was answering my prayers.
The story has changed, matured, quite a bit from those early days of brainstorming but the feeling that this idea was an answer to my prayers, the constant push to work on it, the confidence in the idea, and my desire to honor and glorify the Lord through the story, have remained. There were several times where I got stuck and didn’t start moving forward again until I’d opened up with someone and asked them to pray for me, then the very next day something new would click. This happened at least four times! I honestly couldn’t have done this without the prayers of my warrior friends. It amazes me whenever the Lord allows me to be a part of the miracle of answered prayers, to contribute to something happening for someone else, a new job, a good test result, salvation, etc., I love that I can play a part in their lives through prayer, but to be on that receiving end? To know that others took the time out of their lives to lift and encourage me, and then see clearly as their prayers are answered on my behalf is a humbling and exhilarating thing.
I started writing, while continuing to brainstorm, right away, then nailed down a few very important pieces and went full force, doing some rewriting about a month later, mid May. I wrote, took a few week off for vacations, wrote some more, got sucked into life, went back, and so on. If you follow my Instagram account, then you were lucky enough to take the trip with me. Finally, the day before Thanksgiving I finished the rough draft.
I knew this would be an amazing moment, but oh how much of an understatement that was. It was a rush, I was full of as much energy as the moment the Lord opened my heart to this story. I was jumping up and down off and on all afternoon. My parents showed up less than an hour after I’d finished and I was able to celebrate with them as well. It was a wonderful, and beautiful experience that has both helped me to feel accomplished in a way I’ve been longing to for sooooooooooooo long, and built my confidence and excitement to do it all again veeeeeeeeeeeery soon!
I had expected it to be around 70,000 words but came in at 93,643 words.
I didn’t just write a few words and move on.
I wrote 93,643 words.
Now, it’s possible 40,000 of them are crap, but you can’t edit a blank page, and I’m ready to edit!
So, in 2017 there were many things I set out to do, 17 to be exact, and I failed, pretty much all of them. I had expected and hoped to blog weekly or even biweekly, but I hadn’t expected to write a novel, and now that you know why I disappeared for long stretches at a time, hopefully, you can forgive me! It’s still so hard to believe that this was something I’d actually intended NOT to do, and yet somehow was finally able to do, through Him who gives me strength, and inspiration, and evidently, persistence.
Do I even mention that I’m just one rough draft of a planned five book series down? By April I started thinking maybe I could bite off a Novella without it being too much pressure and instead I was handed a Pentalogy (Google suggested this is a word so if it’s not don’t hold it against me). This is definitely going to be a long road to travel, but I can’t wait to see where it leads!
So what’s in store for 2018? Well, I expect editing, and more editing, and more editing, but I also hope that by the end of the year I’ll have been able to start doing at least some querying and maybe have attended a conference? Time will tell, but I am making serious plans to do that, and remain active here, and on Instagram, and start a Facebook page, so I hope that we will grow closer as this year unfolds.
If you’re still reading after all of the !!!!, oooooooooos, and CAPS LOCKS I know you are truly invested and excited for and with me 🙂
What is your current writing relationship status? Have you been desperately pursuing the dream, casually dating, or maybe even just flirting with the idea of it all? Wherever you are at, I’d love to join you on your journey and travel the road together.