I'm a music instructor by day and writer by night, or any time I'm not teaching for that matter. If music is my first love, then writing is my true love. Ever since I can remember, I've always been a voracious reader. My nose would always be stuck in a book whether it was a novel behind a textbook during school or hiding under the covers with a flashlight past bedtime. When I'm not writing (or editing), I'm usually involved in one of my other interests including: going to book clubs, garden design, viticulture/vineyard management, gourmet cooking, needlepointing, skiing, playing the violin, spending time with family and friends, watching movies/documentaries, traveling, going to art shows, running, attending church, and mentoring/volunteering.
I clearly remember when I started writing––the summer I was thirteen. My mom and I spent the summer in Alberta, Canada taking care of my grandma. During that time, I had the idea of writing my own novel since I loved to read them so much. And I did. It was seventy-eight pages, had two star-crossed lovers...and a barn (yeah, I'm not sure about the barn either...). Although I still have the manuscript, it's buried in a box in the basement and will never see the light of day. The thought of my writing then compared to now is cringeworthy, but it reminds me of the adage: despise not small beginnings. Everyone has to start somewhere no matter what it is. (Something to note that I clearly didn't remember––A few years ago when going through a stack of old elementary school keepsakes, I found a booklet on what I wanted to be when I grew up. In it, it said I wanted to be an author. The validation and insight it gave regarding writing perhaps being my destiny was incredible!!)
This summer marks the release of my debut novel, M. de V.A.LL.E. It has been two and a half years in the making. Even though I've written since middle school, I have never put the polishing touches on a story. I would either jump ship halfway or skip over sections I didn't want to write and never come back to them. A new idea always seemed more exciting than continuing with a current one. Before starting 'M', I promised myself that no matter what it took, I'd finish the next novel I started. So, fast forwarding almost three years, I've almost made good on that promise! I've learned many valuable things along the way about the writing process, but mainly how much diligence and hard work it truly takes. I have a greater appreciation for fellow authors and books in general.
My previous life experiences and network of support prepared me for this journey. Competitive swimming in high school, music throughout my life, and the way I was raised instilled the discipline and work ethic I needed to be successful at writing. Also, my family and close friends have been so instrumental in encouraging me to keep moving forward––to keep writing through the hard times. In addition, early on in the process I joined a critique group with three smart and talented women. We were able to be candid with each other and give honest feedback. I know critique groups can get a lot of censure at times, but it made me think critically about my story when I had to defend or explain why I wrote it the way I did. I know I could never have finished without the support of these wonderful people in my life!
I like to define my writing as relationship based. While I wrote 'M' in a minimalistic style with suspense and themes of deception, betrayal, love, and promises kept, the focus is on individuals connecting with each other. How people interact. Why they treat one another the way they do. What are their motivations? Their background.
Cultures are fascinating to me––how we live life so differently from one another, yet at the most basic level, exactly the same. I'm a first generation American born to two first generation Canadians whose parents emigrated from Ukraine. But a story doesn't stop there. It never does. By digging deeper, I could find out how many generations were native Ukrainians. Where the Austrian and Jewish influence entered the mix. Were they fleeing persecution or oppression from the hands of the Russian or Austro-Hungarian empires? Or maybe they were just looking for a better life. I may never know all of the details, but that doesn't make it any less compelling!
Yet, the majority of stories go unheard. It is speculated that thirteen years ago there were one million authors to a total population of seven billion. That's roughly a one in seven thousand ratio. Imagine the stories that go untold to the world. I know it's unrealistic––and unfeasible––to assume everyone can be heard (or wants to be heard for that matter). That's why it makes our job as writers even more imperative. We can learn something from one another, can all relate and sympathize (perhaps even empathize) together.
We all have our stories to tell...each and every one of us.