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New Year, New Book, New Blog

Hello, everyone. Here I am, at my new blogging site. I hope you like it. I think it looks great -- and I'm still getting used to the set up here. But I wanted to get started and write about what it's like to have a book out!

How crazy is THAT?

Those words -- have a book out -- this is ME I'm talking about. This is MY book. Whoa.

As writers, we're told over and over that publishing a book doesn't make us writers; if we write, then we're writers. And I believe that. Yet ---

I was recently completing an interview about the book and I was talking about my past--how I got from college to now, and I realized just how very long I have been writing. All of my adult life, and that's a lot of years. I wasn't always working towards publication, or maybe I thought I was, but I was always perfecting my craft, working on writing better, tighter sentences, figuring out story. But I'm not sure that I ever really believed I could be a "writer." I don't think I really saw writing as a viable way to make a living. I didn't see "the writing life" as available to someone like me.

Someone like me

I was born in the suburbs of Boston, MA, in an Irish Catholic family. Two parents. One brother. One sister. We lived with my grandfather. Money was tight. I remember being told I was smart and so that was something I did start to believe about myself, and even in those long ago days, I loved to write and would make up stories at any opportunity. But somehow, growing up in the suburbs doesn't lend itself to being an artist. There were no role models for this. It wasn't until I was getting my MFA--something I did relatively late in life, at almost 40--that I had a professor who told us that the hardest thing about being an artist is believing you are an artist. I think I scoffed when he first said this until I started thinking about my own work and why I never sent it out. I didn't believe that I was a writer. I was a teacher who wrote.

There's nothing wrong with being a teacher who writes. But I realized that IF I wanted to join the ranks of professional writers, IF I did, indeed, want to have a book published, THEN I was going to have to re-think my priorities and figure out how to multi-task better. I was going to have to get up in the mornings and write before school, even for an hour only, or a half hour--whatever time I could manage. I had to ask myself, how badly do you want this? I had to start seeing myself as a writer and make writing a priority. And when I did--look what happened! A book!

The book has been out in the world for, technically, one week. I didn't really anticipate what it would feel like getting people's reactions to the book. I hope that The Year of Needy Girls offers something to think about, a way to view the world, an interesting story. In the meantime, it's a dream come true. That's a good start to the new year.

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