When I was a small child, maybe seven or eight, maybe ten – I don’t know, it was a long time ago, all right? – and I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I had two definite answers:
I wanted to have children and I wanted to write books. Real, published books.
Those were my dreams when I was a child and they remained my dreams into adult hood. Only then something happened when I hit my thirties.
Firstly I was diagnosed with general infertility – that is, I couldn’t get knocked up but nobody really knew why. It just wasn’t happening.
And secondly, I couldn’t finish a book. Writing one, I mean. I’d written zillions of words and a billion novels (no that’s not hyperbole, thank you – you haven’t seen all the files on my hard drive), but I couldn’t complete them. I could put together a lovely sentence. I could write a beautiful page of prose. I knew how to deliver an excellent scene. But a whole book with closure and an actual finish? Unless some reader wanted to meander through 600k words with no ending in sight, it wasn’t happening.
So I did two things. I enrolled in a creative writing course – Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT – to learn my writing craft properly, and I started on the long, bizarre, expensive road of IVF.
I’ve documented my experiences with IVF on my blog Fun With IVF, so you can read all about that there. It was a wild ride, especially that time when my beautiful IVF son Luke was about two and I started feeling nauseous to the point where I didn’t even feel like drinking coffee anymore and… Oh. Yes. Nature had surprises in store because apparently I could get preggo naturally despite it all, and along came child #2, my delightful, very wanted, unexpected but happy surprise, Charlotte.
It took many years, many invasive tests, many many many needles and so many dollars you don’t want to ask, but I had my kids.
The whole investigation into IVF thing kicked off sometime around 2009. Also sometime around 2009, I also started submitting short stories to anthologies and magazines. Not because I enjoyed writing short stories, short is really not my forte (did I mention the 600k thing before?), but because I had a plan to get published. To write novels and have them out there in the world. And I figured the best way to do that was to build a publishing history with short stories first.
So that’s what I did. For ten years I’ve been sending out short stories – a format I admire, but is totally not my natural home – and getting at least a couple of them published a year, all with the view that one day I want to publish novels. But while I believe in chasing dreams and working hard and persisting, I’m also a pragmatist and I know sometimes it’s just all out of your control. One of my oldest friends also dreamed of having children, but for her it never happened.
You will never achieve anything if you don’t put in the hard work and persist despite failure and rejection – especially in writing, where rejection is just part of the job.
But sometimes, no matter how hard you work, luck is also against you.
Anyway, I know that. I’ve always known that. But writing is my passion and I do it anyway and I’ve made my peace with that.
Except. Well. Something happened last weekend. Something I can’t tell you massive amounts about yet, the details will all be forthcoming I swear. But until then, let me just say:
Reader, I signed a book contract.