Reminder on the purpose of these Retro Posts: I thought that readers might be interested in a few blog posts that I wrote back when I was in the middle of writing SUMMERSVILLE. They primarily cover how I got started writing, my process, and some of the challenges I faced along the way. Let me know what you think!
LET ME BACK UP A STEP. (Originally posted 1/22/14, edited for clarity)
Although I formally started writing the book SUMMERSVILLE in May 2013, effectively I started well before that. I had often thought that a particular story about my sister, who was adopted by my parents in 1957, was poignant and worthy of being told. I’d had this thought for a time, and then something else happened to her around 2006 that made the story all that more amazing.
I planned my February 2013 retirement from the bank months ahead of time–back in August 2012. So for seven months, I was considering what sort of second career I would pursue, and I decided early on it would be something to do with writing. I started reading about different ways of writing to make money, and I came across Lee Gutkind’s book, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction — from Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between.”
That book may have changed my life, or at least strongly influenced the turn it would take. Lee described his involvement with the Creative Nonfiction movement and mentioned his quarterly journal by the same name. I subscribed to the journal and found through the website that the organization also offered various writing courses. So I signed up for “Foundations of Creative Nonfiction,” a 10-week class that started in January 2013. We had to write three 3,500 word essays, and one of mine was my first attempt at telling my sister’s story. Of course the instructor and my two peer reviewers had suggestions for improvement, but the story itself was very well received.
My active work for the bank and this writing course ended at about the same time. I had been heavily researching copy writing as a possible second career, and I had also set up a website to offer writing and editorial services, but I was struggling with how I was going to market myself. Not long after that was when my husband asked the pivotal question, “Why don’t you just stop all this scatter shot stuff and write a book?”
And that is how the idea for SUMMERSVILLE was incubated.