You gotta love it.
I had this masterpiece pinned to my bulletin board for years until the newsprint began to crumble and its removal left a rectangle undarkened by the light.
By the time I started my first novel (well, second if you count the one I began at age 8), I had already become a working writer and was well acquainted with the horrors of the blank page (or screen). What I needed to be reminded of then wasn't the work but the fun.
Howard Owen did that. My former supervisor and an already-published novelist, he kindly took a look at my first pages and encouraged me. He reminded me that fiction rarely brings riches or fame, then asked, "So, are you having fun?"
I was. Writing Island Girls, which later became Fish-Eye Lens, was one of my rewards at the end of island days spent digging up burr grass, sealing the decks or cleaning windows. I laughed and gossiped with my characters and amused myself by naming minor characters after real people; various Richmond journalists became a lawyer, a college professor and island church ladies.
After that bit of fun, there was a long period of revision, querying agents and publishers, copy-editing and more revision. Good writing is hard work.
All along, I had the second novel in mind: another adventure of my "girls," this time loosely based on the real-life adventures of trying to keep Aloe House safe from its not-always-sterling renters. I got a chapter and a half done before I stalled.
Maybe I was distracted by a new life in Richmond. Maybe it was too soon to fictionalize events that had caused me great pain. Maybe it was the rejection letters from the first book. Anyway, the fun was gone.
I turned instead to a different, more serious, direction and began a series of short stories about island life. Some were published, while others languished -- but for a writer, that's enough encouragement to continue. She-Pirate of the Taino Islands went not on the back burner but into the cupboard.
Recently, though, the girls have re-entered my life. I'm hearing them again, enjoying once again their boozy, gossipy approach to East Taino.
They came up in conversation. With Fish-Eye Lens finally moving toward publication, friends started asking about it and its characters. I began talking about Liz, Phyl and Kate in the way I describe real island friends. The girls seemed eager to take on something new; it would be fun.
I'm ready now to have fun with them. My real and imaginary friends have conspired to remind me that writing is not only hard work, but also a satisfying occupation and, all things considered, a good time.
It's like that Snoopy comic strip: You gotta love it.