For days now I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell you something that I promised to tell you a long time ago, if it ever came to pass. Which, much to my surprise, it finally did.
All right, I’ll just say it: I finally published my novel.
Yes, that would be the novel that I’d been planning to write (off and on, though mostly off) for most of my adult life.
Occasionally, over the years, I would mention in a column that being married to a high school basketball coach with three active children and a full-time job left me little time to breathe, let alone to focus on finishing a novel I hadn’t even started.
Then I’d get a stack of mail from readers like you telling me: "Never give up!" "Follow that dream!" "Write that novel!"
Readers can be tough on a writer. If you’re one of the kind souls who sent me those notes, let me assure you, I am grateful.
Encouragement is the oil that keeps the wheels of a dream turning. Some of us need it more than others. It didn’t give me more time for writing. But it gave me hope that someday, somehow that time would come.
Have you ever noticed how dreams often seem to come true at the end of a long hard road? Here’s the story of how I finally published my novel.
In 1998, my husband, the coach, lost a four-year, hard-fought battle with cancer. Our three children were in their early 20s. I was a reporter for a local newspaper and wrote a weekly syndicated column.
After he died, it took me a while to figure out who I was without him. My kids and I were close, but losing their dad drew us closer. I had also lost both of my parents, and had felt it draw me closer to my sister and brothers. I began to realize that while grief brings pain, it also brings gifts. I wanted to write about both.
Soon the story that I’d been writing in my head — about the bond between a woman and her grandchild — began writing itself in my heart, growing deeper and truer than anything I had imagined.
That fall, I rented a cabin on a mountain lake near where I was born, and spent four months writing like a house on fire. At the end of those four months, the story still wasn’t finished.
But neither was I. I took a break from working on the book to marry my former editor and we moved to Las Vegas, where he worked for a newspaper and I wrote columns. Meanwhile, our kids (his two and my three) started getting married and having babies. Eight babies in nine years. So my husband retired and we moved back to California, to take on full-time careers as Nana and Papa.
My life was so full and so good I almost forgot about the novel. Then, out of nowhere, I got an email from Heather Lazare.
Long ago, when I was a reporter and Heather was a budding writer in sixth grade, her mother asked me to meet with her to talk about writing. So we met and talked, hugged each other and said goodbye.
Twenty-five years later, Heather emailed me to say she had grown up to be an editor at a publishing house in New York. She and her husband were starting a family and had moved back to California, where she was starting her own editing and publishing business.
So we met again to talk about writing and books and babies. And I hired her to edit my novel. Then I hired her as project manager to publish it. I wish I could hire her to run my life.
We all have a God-given ability to pull for one another, to bear each other’s burdens and rejoice in all the joys. I’m grateful to all of you who nagged me to finish my book. Please don’t feel you need to read it. Unless you really want to.
What’s your dream? Share it with someone who’ll nag you to finish it. Nagging helps. But in the end, I think you will find, just as I did, it’s mostly up to you.
Sharon Randall is the author of "The World and Then Some: A Novel." She can be reached at SharonRandall.com.