Five years ago today I was getting ready for my wedding. I thought I was embarking on the greatest adventure of my life and I couldn't wait to get it started. Had I know then what would start in one short month I might not have walked down the aisle that night.
Eleven months later my happily ever after was dead. He wasn't a prince. He wasn't even a good man. He so thoroughly hoodwinked my entire family that my parents were having a hard time believing all the stuff I was telling them he had done. Even after I called the police on him and returned home, it took some time before it all sunk in that I hadn't been making it up, misreading things because of cultural differences, or imagining things to be worse than they were.
1400 miles are between us, so I never have to worry about running into him. I've severed all ties with him and his family.
Four years ago today I was curled up with my sister having a Lost In Space marathon and pointedly ignoring the ex and his parents who were trying to call me. What should have been my first wedding anniversary was instead my sister being her awesome self and giving me something else to think about.
My words were gone. I went from someone who wrote every day to someone who was dying to write but could not get a single word out. In any form. Fiction, journaling, shorts, random scenes. You name it, it was all locked inside me. NOTHING would come out, except a very angry letter to my ex in-laws that I never mailed.
Three years ago today my words had finally come back after spending a month with my grandmother helping her after she broke her femur. I would sit on her couch in the afternoons and play with my characters, tell her about the novel I was writing, and enjoy the all-encompassing peace that came with being around my beautiful grandmother. We buried her two days before I found out the divorce was final, but she knew it was coming. And more importantly she knew I was okay and once again embracing life.
In September 2011, at a writer's conference in St. Louis, I pitched my almost finished historical romance to two agents. Both of whom asked for the full, because "I've never seen this." Every submitting writer alive dreams of hearing "I've never seen this." One of my friends was right there when I came out of the first appointment and we hugged and jumped up and down. I was trying so hard not to cry right there in the hall. Not from sadness like the previous eighteen months, but from pure joy. It was rinse repeat the next day with my second appointment, more jumping up and down, more hugging, more celebrating, more sharing it with all my friends who had walked with me every step of my dark journey from dying inside to words pouring out of me once more.
Both agents ultimately said no, because they didn't think they could sell it, but both loved my voice and encouraged me to keep at it and come back with something easier to place. The rejection from one of them was so beautiful it didn't hurt at all. As I discovered two months later rejections from them was part of God's plan, because I didn't just change genres, I changed markets. From Christian to general.
Two years ago tonight I had a dream. I dreamed about a humanoid alien walking through a forest, saying one word over and over and over. It turned out to be his name. A'yen. His story was similar to the historical stuff I'd been immersed in, and let me play with themes I love, interracial relationships and the value of life. Except in A'yen's case it's interspecies. I wrote out a quick back cover type blurb while I ate breakfast on May 17th, 2012, did my work for the day, opened a new document and titled it My Name Is A'yen.
Eighty-six days later I had a completed 95,000 word novel in a genre I didn't know existed. Science fiction romance. My crit partner devoured it as fast as I churned it out, which was damn fast. She celebrated every milestone with me because she knew what all I had been through. She loves the story almost as much as I do.
One year ago today I found out I was still in the running at the Harper Voyager open call for their new digital first line. Ultimately they said no, but it was just what I needed to hear on just the right day.
What's my news today? I've written four novels in two years. FOUR NOVELS IN TWO YEARS. All over 95,000 words. I still can't quite believe what I've done. Still can't quite believe how dreams I'd never seriously entertained prior to the explosion of my marriage have become the driving force of my life and I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do at this stage in my life. It's an amazing feeling.
May 16th is no longer the anniversary of a marriage that never stood a chance. It's no longer a reminder of the most painful time of my life. It's A'yen's anniversary. It's the dawning of the next chapter of my life. It's the day marking the beginning of exploring who I am as a writer and discovering a genre that gives me the freedom to write romance exactly how I want to write it.
I'm hoping the next five years are even better.