The Three-Step Process From Isolation to Publication

Writing a first novel is a leap of faith. Some people, I imagine, take the plunge headfirst. When I approached the precipice after a 20-year hiatus from writing fiction, I did so tentatively; when I finally leapt, I held my breath.

Step 1: Commit to Writing

Since I was a child, I’d loved writing stories. But life took me in a different direction, and it wasn’t until I turned 40 that I dared to give writing a real go. I remember my first year of committed writing as one of flailing and experimentation, riddled by uncertainty and pursued in isolation. Ideas teemed in my head, but I couldn’t find a way to get them on the page in any satisfactory way.

Every weekday morning while my children were at school, I forced myself to write—short stories, flash-fiction pieces for online contests, countless “first chapters” that led to dead ends. Sitting for hours at the kitchen table on my own, I had no sense whether my work might capture a reader’s interest or bore her death, if it was flawed-but-promising or irredeemable.

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