I first met R.J. Keller in 2009 when she was pimping her book, Waiting for Spring. At 600 pages, I did not want to read that book just because of the size alone. Yeah, I was an ass. I eventually gave in of course and we’ve been online buds ever since. Her wit and sarcasm will fill your Facebook feed with laughter every day. I’ve watched her kids grow up and go off to college. I was there when she picked up her family and moved so she could stalk Stephen King. I’ve admired pics of her awesome Christmas tree every year. And I’ve watched her rant about her jobs on her blog (her confessions from a convenience store clerk are hilarious!). And if you are a writer and want inspiration, check our her series of Paper Rats videos on YouTube. In 2011, Waiting for Spring was picked up by Lake Union Publishing, and the rest of us have been waiting for her second book ever since. R.J. explains…
* * * *
It took me about eighteen months to write my first novel. I banged out a quick first draft, stripped it down and wrote a second draft. Then a third. That’s when I knew I had something, when my characters started to dance. So I called in the reinforcements (ie beta readers and, later, editors), stripped it down again and put it back together. Poof! Just like that. A novel. And I did it while homeschooling my kids, working part time, and dealing with a serious illness.
My second novel? I’ve been working on it for almost six years. When I started writing it, I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas was the earworm of the summer. JJ Abrams’ Star Trek (the first one) was in theaters. Under The Dome was Stephen King’s most recent book. Glee was brand new.
So what’s taken me so long? Fear of the “sophomore slump”? Sure. Bad reviews sapping my confidence? Probably. Good reviews making me feel pressured to live up to readers’ expectations? I guess. But the biggest road block was time. Too much of it. I quit my ‘day job’ to write full time and found myself hardly writing at all.
My husband and all my friends were at work during the day, my kids were back in public school. I barely had any human interaction at all. Nothing funny or irritating or heartbreaking was happening around me, there was nothing to inspire me. It was just me, my cats, and my laptop, eight hours a day, seven days a week. It was what I had dreamed of doing since I was ten years old. And it nearly killed my writing career before it really had a chance to begin.
Now I’m working full time again at a much more challenging job than I’ve ever had, and it’s very difficult to schedule writing time, yet I’m writing more than I have in years. My writing is better than it has been in years. I’ve finally got hold of what my second novel is supposed to be about. My characters are finally starting to dance for me.
I guess I’ll keep my day job.