Happy November, or No-Remember

It’s November 1st. Time for my recurring nightmare that I’ve missed Christmas, woken up the day of, and had no gifts for anyone.

It also reminds me of Piers Anthony. He was my favorite author for many years, beginning in 6th grade. For my birthday, my brother Jason gave me the book, A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series. I had a hard time getting into it at first. But then I did and I read all of his work. Bought his new books the day they came out. And he’s prolific– he took a lot of my allowance!

Anyway, Xanth’s very pun-ny, and No-Remember was in place of November.

When I was around 13, I wrote Piers Anthony a letter. I wish I still had it. I have no idea what happened to it.* But in it, I said that I wanted to be an author one day. He was then known to respond to all his fanmail– I don’t know if that’s true– and he wrote me a very lovely, gracious, and inspiring response. It said he had the utmost faith in me, and all I had to do was not give up.

That really does help.

In my short time as a published author, I’ve met several people who told me that I inspired them. My first emotion is always bewilderment– I’m just me, and not really sure how I could inspire anyone. I don’t think of myself as grand. I’m not royalty. I’m more like a stay-at-home mom who writes while the kids are in school.

Once, when someone was talking about me, they mentioned how looonnnng it took me after college to get published. That felt weird, too, because it didn’t feel like it took too long. I think I wrote my book when I was ready to write it. In college and before, I was insecure about my writing. I was afraid of critiques, especially after some nasty group ones. I hated rereading my writing and I loathed editing.

Plus, I didn’t have enough life experience. Sure, some stuff happened, but I needed distance to process it. Some wisdom.

I feel like all the jobs I had led up to this point, of getting ready to write. Newspaper writing taught me the value of research and deadlines. Writing plays taught me dramatic tension and how to write dialogue well. Writing that Bluetooth for Dummies book taught me that I could indeed write a whole long tome. And I began thinking more with my underdeveloped analytic left brain. I got more confident.

My husband– forgive me if I mentioned this elsewhere– says he always knew I had to be a fiction writer. When we were first together, I wrote him a short story. It had the phrase, “words flying from her mouth like daggers coming at his face.” That’s all we remember about the story. He quotes it to me all the time. Anyway, he says when he read that, he knew that was my calling.

So this post that was supposed to say Happy November turned into a post about writing.

Well kids, it’s NaNoWriMo– National Novel Writing Month. Let me inspire you. Write your freaking novel already.

*Sometimes things just get lost during moves. You have a document in with all the other documents in Box X, and Box X arrives intact EXCEPT for that one thing you know you packed. How does that happen?

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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