Still Writing After All These Years

Kathy Cecala is a writer, novelist, editor and English teacher. “Teaching and editing are the only things I make money at, but writing is my passion and life’s work. I have been writing for decades, so I’ve learned a few things.”

The last thing we need on the Internet is another annoying writer’s blog. So I’ll try not to be annoying. I’ll try to avoid the blatant self-promotion (there’ll be some, but within reason); rants against that rotten old publishing industry; and I won’t throw snark at other writers, unless they really deserve it. I just hope to share some of the bitter and sweet things I’ve learned along the way to glorious midlist-dom, and the biggest lesson of all: When you’re born to write, persistence is the key.

I’m not going to linger on past successes, few and far between as they are—you can look up my work on Amazon or Goodreads. I plan to chronicle my new venture, a new novel that I am planning to self-publish. It’s not my first ‘selfie’ but will be my fourth: I think I’ve finally learned enough from the other three to get this one right. The other three were actually part of a series of historical novels for young adults, but this is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s for grown-ups. It’s contemporary. It’s serious. And it’s probably completely unmarketable. That’s why I need to publish it myself; I don’t think anyone else wants to. But more on that angle in a future blog.

This new book of mine was completed over the past summer of 2015, under somewhat unusual circumstances. I developed a terrible case of vertigo, which seemed to come out of the blue, but would be later be attributed to a secret ear infection I had somehow developed. This vertigo was so severe, I could not even stand up or walk, and I was constantly nauseous. And it lasted for quite a while. There was little I could do but take big doses of Antivert and sit perfectly still and try not to move my head. I couldn’t even watch TV or use the computer, the light did something weird to my eyes. So for about three weeks, I lived entirely inside my head. And my head said: “You need to write a new adult novel, something like your first novel, Secret Vow. Hey! You could take that character that no one understood, Ellis Barlowe, and really try to get inside him, showing him at a different point in his life.” And before I knew it, I had plotted out an entirely new book. And no, it’s not Secret Vow Redux, or the sequel; it’s a completely different book standing on its own.

When I was younger, I could keep an entire novel organized inside my head and carry it around intact for weeks, but I’ve reached the age where that’s no longer possible. The damned vertigo didn’t help either. I began scribbling down frantic notes as often as I could, and as soon as I felt well enough to sit in front of my computer, I started typing the manuscript. It was amazing how quickly it poured out, but now I feel like I’ve been editing it forever. Editing is something I always overdo. I know writers who claim they don’t have to edit or write drafts, and I say, their stuff’s never any good. But I think I’m finally done. I think…

So now it’s on to the marketplace to see how it flies. I don’t use ‘beta’ readers or critique groups; I hate to inflict my work on anyone unless they’re ready to fork over real money for it. But I am a little nervous about the whole thing: Can a vertigo-induced novel stemming from a twenty-year-old book really be any good??? That’s what we’re all here to find out.

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