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Step One

 Part of a series of blog posts that chart my progress from couch potato to published author. See Perspiring Authors page for a sequential list.

I gave up on the dream.

Twenty years ago I decided writing ‘the’ book would have to wait until the kids were school aged. And then stuff happened which made writing difficult, and for various reasons, I gave up on the dream.

The kids grew up. The garden flourished. The dogs aged, and so did I.

About 4 years ago, I was laying on the couch watching Oprah. I’d seen the show before, but even so, I was watching it again. Flat on my back. With the remote in my hand and probably some chips balanced on my stomach. And the thought occurred to me:  I could lay here for the rest of my life watching Oprah. Essentially waiting to die. Watching Oprah.

No offence Oprah, but no thanks. I opened a drawer, took out an old partly finished manuscript, and thought, maybe I can do this again.

Going into it, I knew it would be difficult. First off, I didn’t have the ‘great idea.’ I had a character and a desire to write again, but that was it. No great concept. No ‘wowser’ flash of inspiration.

You know what? Waiting for the great idea is really dumb. Don’t do that. Start writing. The great idea will catch up.

Okay, so back to me…I had scared myself silly with the thought of the ‘great book.’ The only way around that was to give myself some slack. I decided to write ‘a’ book, not ‘the’ book. I’d make an effort to do a good job of it, so I wouldn’t be embarrassed if someone read it. But it was just for me. I just wanted to have a dream again, and to be able to say one day–

Once, I wrote a book.

I wasn’t even going to tell anyone about it.

A lot has changed since then. I don’t write casually anymore. It’s my job and yes, perhaps, my obsession. But still, some things have stayed the same. Once in awhile I watch Oprah.

Why am I telling you this? Because I needed a shape for this blog – some common theme running through it.  Pets are good, but my spaniel is really lazy, and there’s only so many stories I can spin about him. I don’t have many great thoughts. I don’t cook. Well, I do, but I hate it.  My old hobbies are faintly musty and boring. I read a lot, but so do many people.

But I do have a story to tell you. About breathing life into old dreams and how along the way, I found myself again. Over the next couple of months, I’ll tell you how I came to be here – a writer with a finished manuscript and a contract with the amazing Deidre Knight – and from there, we’ll see where we go. 

 If you want to write a book, the first step is:

 Get up off the damn couch. 


  • Katlen
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Hi Leigh, I’m an aspiring author. I went to a convention this year which was amazing. As I had the tag hanging from my neck all I could do was perspire*grr*. So I total agree with you! The feeling of all those great authors and I was aspiring? I love to write! I write to tell a story not for the ‘great book’. How do you feel about outlines? Is there a good outline you use? Its nice to know that I’m not alone….getting off the damn couch!

    Thank you,

    • Posted May 3, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Hey Katlen,
      I’m a pantster. I find a lot of value in those moments of “wow, wouldn’t it be neat?” Though, I do throw out a lot of words. Too many some times.
      I’m happy to hear you love to write. Keep going:-)

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