2018 saw me committing to writing fiction. Last year I’d made the decision to write my first romance novel and although I’d made good progress, I still wasn’t serious about it. In order to raise the stakes, I entered a Romance Writing competition to submit the first three chapters of my novel for judging.
This wasn’t an easy decision to take. I have a full time job, I’m a wife, mother, runner and writer all in one. It would take extreme focus, planning, determination and perseverance to reach my goal and I wasn’t sure I’d cope. But I had the backing of my family and with their support in the household, I was able to submit my entry and still keep my sanity.
The Strelitzia Competition is hosted by the Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa (ROSA) of which I am proud member. When I joined ROSA three years ago, I was an aspiring writer, dreaming of writing a novel, but not carving enough time for it. My life is incredibly full and I thrive on balance. But this year I needed to focus on one goal, and that was to finish my novel. The competition was the vehicle to get there. Each entrant was lucky to be mentored by a published Author. This was an opportunity to work closely with a mentor, to bounce ideas, to gain valuable insight I’d never achieve writing a book on my own. I grabbed it with both arms and soaked it in.
It also meant that I had to learn to edit, rework and restructure my writing to make it shine. I had to be open to constructive criticism whether I liked it or not. It pushed me past my comfort zone, stirred doubts I wasn’t good enough, that I was wasting my time and effort on something that wouldn’t see the light of day.
I had to be my own motivator, a slave driver to whip my behind when I slacked, dragged myself to write when I wanted to chill on my phone, yanked myself off the couch when I wanted to watch a movie or have long conversations with the family. In order to achieve my goal, I didn’t have time to waste, every minute was precious and I had to choose wisely how mine was spent.
To top it all, it was Lakeisha’s Matric Ball. There was lots of dashing around to get a dress made, shop for her needs, ensuring she looked like a princess. To add to my already hectic schedule, I signed up for CampNanoWrimo to write 13 000 words towards my novel in the month of April. I knew I was spreading myself thin and it was only through prayer and guidance from the good Lord that I managed to attain my short-term goals.
Five months of the year has passed and I feel drained and stretched beyond my limits. But there’s a beautiful feeling of accomplishment hugging me, a knowledge that I have what it takes to finish my novel. No matter the outcome of this competition, I am already a winner because I had the courage to enter, worked harder than ever and gave it my absolute all!
Fiction writing is hard. It takes years to write a novel, to keep returning to it when you’re the only one who believes in it. One has to be resilient to stay the course and I believe I have what it takes to get there. One day at a time, one word at a time, I will, I can, I am finishing this novel!