Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Real Story, Part 3

(Read Part 2 HERE.)


It took me three days to get my head around the edit suggestion.  Then I dug in and made the change, and it was the hardest edit I'd ever had to do.  Turns out, though, that Danielle and Josh were right--the story ended up so much stronger once I made the sex change.  (And Danielle and I still joke about it.)

In February, 2014, we went on submission with the YA science fiction.  This was our fourth attempt to sell a book, and by now my cynicism was fairly high.  Countless aspiring authors I'd met online had long since published their debuts, while I sat on the bench.  Sometimes it got really hard.  Sometimes I had to dig deep inside myself to find the words to continue to encourage other writers.

But God always gave me the grace to keep going.  And since the opposite of that is quitting, there was no other option for me.

I'm not a quitter.

On my birthday with Lucy, fairest kitty of all


The long writerly journey was taking a toll, though, and in August I decided to take an honest-to-goodness writing break, something I'd never done before.  By this time, my Authoress Edits business was thriving, so I had a ton of work from clients to wade through.  Between that and the upcoming Baker's Dozen, I was definitely busy.  But I did not write.  

Which gave me time to do other things.  Like prepare a Hobbit Dinner with my beloved daughter.












By September, I was already well into planning my next story, so the break obviously did me a lot of good. I had also done, by now, a complete reboot of my original YA dystopian (that Josh signed me on) as a straight-up sci/fi, at Danielle's suggestion.  (The dystopian market was still maxed out, so this was worth a shot.)  Honestly, I wasn't thoroughly in love with what I was doing, but it was one of those keep-on-keeping-on situations, so I did it.

The new story, though, had me fully engaged--and challenged.  I'd made the shift to YA fantasy, and by the time I started drafting, it was soon clear that, for whatever reason, this was my hardest undertaking yet.

Still, I was back in my sweet spot, writing daily.






Writing at The Factory in Franklin, November 2014

Fantasy has always been my first love.  I was reading Katherine Kurtz, Patricia McKillip,  and Terry Brooks when I was in seventh grade, and my love affair never stopped.  Interestingly, of all the novels I'd written to date, only 2 were fantasy.  The rest were all in the realms of science fiction (which is undoubtedly my second love).  This new project took me to a place I'd always been comfortable reading, but not necessarily writing.

And, like stories are wont to do, it tangled me to the point at which I had to begin again.  It was some of the most difficult plotting I've ever done, and I suspect this was evidence of my "notching it up" as a writer.  By February of 2015, this is what things looked like:



I do the majority of my work on my laptop, but this plot snarl called for a tactile approach.  (I cut out the outline of each scene and taped it to the correct chapter--and moved them around as necessary.) I'm happy to say it worked!  But ugh, it was painstaking.  I did a lot of staring.

That summer, I trekked to NYC once more to have lunch with Josh.  Over sushi and spring water, I threw out the suggestion that, perhaps, when my WIP was finished, I might give that project to Danielle.  I knew Josh didn't represent fantasy, and Danielle, on the other hand, not only loved it, but seemed to click with my work.  Josh was amenable, as I'd expected him to be.

Back at the office, it was a huge treat to meet Danielle.  It was her idea for me to hold up the face-over-my-face for the first picture, so I could share it on my blog.  The real picture was saved, of course, for such a time as this.



I'm so thankful for these two.

By December, I'd finished the manuscript, and Danielle and I made it official.  We were genuinely excited to work together, and Josh sent us off with his blessing.  Several months later, Danielle made the move to Nelson Literary, and I happily followed her (because I would probably follow her anywhere).  

We went on submission and I worked on a new YA fantasy.  Meanwhile, I continued to take ballet classes and pursue other interests.  Honestly, by this point of my writing journey, I had let go of my dreams and simply continued to press forward because it was the right thing to do.  And it was such a complete joy working with Danielle that she made it easy.

I knew I'd be able to keep on keeping on indefinitely.  So that's what I decided to do.

In August, Eric and I auditioned for, and were accepted into, the Nashville Symphony Chorus.  This was a huge turning point for me--I have a degree in music, and it is one of my first and deepest loves.  Life took different turns for me, with much joy along the way, but rediscovering my passion for music was soul-nourishing and life-giving.



View from the entrance to the choir loft at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN

Smooching at the Schermerhorn after a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

We celebrated Thanksgiving that year at the farm where our oldest son lives.  Dinner for 14 on the dock by the pond--wonderful family time!


In February, 2016, my Authoress Facebook page exploded when a certain photo went viral.  This must have gotten Facebook's attention, because they contacted me and told me that my name didn't seem real (oh, really?), and that I'd have to prove this was a name I actually went by, or they would shut down my account.  Thanks to the wise advice of one of my colleagues, I created an Authoress I.D. and sent a picture to Facebook.  They stopped bothering me after that.  



I'm not a traveller at heart, and 2016 was a "travel-heavy" year for me.  (If you travel regularly, you'll laugh at my lameness.)  In addition to two trips to Cape May (one with the entire family and one for just the two of us), Eric and I flew to Chicago to see Peter Gabriel and Sting.  It was my first time in Chicago, and, yes, the wind was a thing.  (Also the concert was fabulous.)




We started our second year with the Nashville Symphony Chorus that August, opening the season with Mahler's Second Symphony.

Because you can dress me in serious clothes, but that's not going to make me serious.

And sometimes we could be spotted listening to the Nashville Symphony instead of singing with them.

Yes, that's a glass of Chardonnay in my hand.

In January, 2017, I had one of the most fun musical experiences I've ever had--I was privileged to be one of twenty-four singers in the Nashville Symphony's screening of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.  The music was hard, the score was delicious, and I now know this movie so well that I could probably write the screenplay by heart.  (Not really.  But close.)



In March, something even better happened: my beloved sister and her family moved to Nashville.  Jamie and I hadn't lived in the same state since 1987, and though it was a difficult transition for her (she was plugged in to a large and loving community in Roanoke), we are both thrilled to be living life together now.  Instead of a seven-and-a-half hour drive away, she's just 17 minutes up the road!

Goodie bags for my niece and nephews

The Nashville Symphony opted for a synthesizer over live voices for their screening of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in May.  At first I was crushed, but then I rallied, bought myself a ticket, and attended a performance as Professor McGonagall.  And I won a prize (as did my little Hermione).




among the Muggles in downtown Nashville

And that pretty much brings us to to the present.  I'm still dancing, still writing, still singing.



And a couple months ago, I had the delight of meeting my longtime colleague, critique partner, and friend, Holly Bodger.  It was lovely to finally have her sign my copy of 5 to 1.  (And lovely to spend time with her in downtown Franklin, chatting our heads off.)


There you have it--my life for the past decade.  In truth, I've been very much myself on this blog, minus the details of my private life.  (Mostly my children.  It was admittedly most difficult to leave them out of my online narrative over the years; they're such a huge part of my life.)

Thank you for walking alongside me on this journey-toward-our-dreams.  Thank you for giving me a safe, kind, and supportive atmosphere for my big reveal.  I'll keep running this blog as "Authoress" for the sake of continuity--but you can call me Jill.







27 comments:

  1. What an uplifting story! Ups and downs, but always shaking off the dirt after a fall and moving on. Authoress, by any Jill name, will always inspire writers.

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  2. Ok, now for our coffee meeting!!! It's not like you don't know where I work and have been stalking the office!! LOL :)

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  3. Quit. Making. Me. Cry. Jill! I’m just kidding. My emotions are yours, madame! Words escape me. ❤️❤️❤️

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    1. Oh, my! Please tell me you didn't ACTUALLY cry! :)

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  4. I must say, I was SHOCKED to hear that you have five children (and that you home-school--that's amazing). You did such a great job of not mentioning them that I had no idea!

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    1. I had a feeling that my offspring would be the biggest shock to people. It got easier to hide them as the years went by (maybe because they started leaving? LOL), but in the beginning it was very hard!

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  5. I'm seeing the moral here...just keep going. --Love the Hobbit Dinner.

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    1. Thank you! And yes, I do believe that is the moral here. :)

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  6. I can't believe you managed to hide 5 kids all this time! And that you've managed to do so much writing, and so much for the writing community while homeschooling 5 kids. You're secretly Wonder Woman, aren't you?

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    1. Honey, if I had that kind of body, I would NOT have stayed anonymous. LOL

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  7. I love this! So glad you found music again and you continue to write and dance!

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  8. Love all of this, Jill. Especially that picture of you in the instrument case. I think we'd get along well IRL. :)

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    1. Hah! If that's your favorite picture, then we would DEFINITELY get along IRL. :)

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  9. You lead such an interesting life with so many emotional moments to feed your creative soul. So glad to meet the all-of-you-person, Jill. Best of luck on your continued journey!

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    1. Thank you, P.D.! And I really love your take -- emotional moments to feed the creative soul. That's really true, and I never thought about it quite like that!

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  10. Thank you! And keep on. Makes me smile to know we're traveling this same road.

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    1. It would be a lonely road if we had to walk it alone!

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  11. Awesome. Love your story. And love that mug. Where can i get one?

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    1. Thanks! And the mug was a Christmas gift from my daughter--I'm pretty sure she got it on Etsy.

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  12. I have loved anticipating and reading this reveal. I've followed you for years, participated in your very first Agent Auction, left comments occasionally, empathized with your writing ups and downs, and I'm ALSO still unpublished, although I keep going too. Thank you so much for filling in the holes of yourself for me, and helping me see a writing colleague that has a real life too. Hi Jill! I'm Kiri :)

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  13. You're amazing! Love getting to read all about the real you :) and for the record, I'm the person in Japan who always looks at your blog- if you ever wonder why someone in Japan is looking, haha!
    -K. Stoker

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  14. It's so awesome that you're part of the chorus symphony! I've heard them a couple of times over the years. I also got to the Schermerhorn twice in the last year, once to a concert and once for a symphony collab with the Nashville Ballet.

    Lucy the cat is gorgeous!

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  15. Love Jodi's mittens helping you untangle your snarl.

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  16. So glad your daughter has caught the joy of fantasy. What a joy that must be, to share that love with your kiddos. I've thoroughly enjoyed these life posts, Jill. It's interesting to see how they fill in the gaps.

    Becky

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