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Donning a Writer’s Hat

The Writer's Life

Donning a Writer’s Hat

I was a senior in high school when I first tried to write a novel. My preferred method was ink and paper, multi colored pens, notebooks and A4 paper with doodle sketches on the back. The novel was about treasure hunting with an Indiana Jones theme. I was nowhere near finished when I showed it to a friend, who admirably hid her wince and told me to keep on trying. Patience ran out before my  ink and paper did.  Finals and SATs came trudging up the hill in armor  dressed for battle, my creative impulse became lost in some dusty drawer.



A few months later I developed a chronic disease that ultimately led to my blindness. I’ll fast forward to ten years later, after I had come to terms with my disability and took up writing again. My newborn daughter had been napping in her crib, midway through a book I was reading, I started making up dialogues for the characters, creating new scenes whenever I had to put down the book to check on something else. Of course, when I’d pick it again, nothing I had created in my head was written in that book. With all that imaginary life crowding inside my head, I decided to start purging them into a Word document.

The first novel I wrote, an urban fantasy for young adults was wince worthy, shudders awarded, hand-to-the-mouth mortifying. I was on the draft of the third and final book of the trilogy when I decided to check over  the first book, I began reading it. It was horrible, full of plot holes, stilted dialogues, bad character development, typos, spelling and grammar mistakes. (I bet my English teacher had been writhing in her grave the entire time). The trilogy was unsalvageable, so I opened a blank Word document page, started typing an entirely new novel with new plots and new characters. I went careful this time, editing the scenes as I went, checking for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Once the manuscript was ready, I researched the publishing industry, the querying process, the agents. For the next two months, my e-mail was attacked with rejections. Sad but in no way deterred, I started a second book (the trilogy didn’t count). This one was a romance, and after all the querying trouble in came the rejections.



I like to believe that I am an optimistic person, so although saddened that my brilliant work didn’t even warrant a partial request, I opened yet a third Word document and began typing, this time a romantic suspense. I made my main character a literary agent who had been accused of stealing a manuscript and passing it on to a famous author who was suffering from writer’s block. Although the rejections came in the shape of praises to the premises of this manuscript, they didn’t negate the fact that my work had yet again, been rejected.

Unfortunately, that one had been disheartening, and  I pushed my writing career aside. I picked up reading again. Between my home, my kids, my disability and my reading, I filled up my plate. I even gained some weight.

A couple of years later I picked up the first novel (not the cringe-worthy trilogy), and read it. I made some adjustments, caught a few plot holes, some bad dialogue, but all in all the book was pretty good. Better, in fact, than a lot of books I read. Picking up my writing career’s hat again, I started polishing up the manuscript. I read, edited, added, deleted. Once, twice, three times.Then again a fourth and  fifth time, until I could no longer stomach the manuscript. I then put it aside, started the second book on that series, just to see if I could do it again. On and off I’d return to the first book, add a scene that I need in the second book, delete  dialogue that would make more sense later on in the series, added a minor character that would feature more prominently in the second one.



 

This time when I researched the publishing industry, I researched the indie route. I learned a lot, but the amount of work necessary almost lost me again. I tried, for the last time, querying five more agents, composing my queries in a different manner, writing a new blurb for the book, I even changed the title. But back came the rejections, again nicely dressed with kind, praising and encouraging words.

 

I’ve always been a determined person, and this time, I soaked my determination with iron, put it under the sun to dry. Then I pushed up my sleeves and with a long list to start ticking off, I started a blog. I began promoting myself, my writing, my book. I joined writing communities, sent the book to be beta read, won a developmental editing offer in from a Goodreads ‘special offer folder’.

 



Now, five years after I first opened the Word document and began typing, my dream is closer to become my reality. I am waiting for the editor who offered me the free service, Elle W. Silver to send me back her first round of editing. The cover is still an issue, but I will tackle that when the time comes. I am still determined, my sleeves are still pushed up.

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Jina was born in a small town in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she had a fulfilling childhood. Soon after she graduated from high school, she was diagnosed with a chronic disease that eventually caused her to go blind. Currently she lives in the middle east with her mother and three kids.

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