Saturday, October 17, 2015

Writing the First Book: My Story

View from Grove Hill in Woodstock, VT by MK
I cannot pinpoint the exact minute I began writing Gallagher's Pride. I do recall that it progressed slowly—both the idea and the execution—but there was a moment when I decided it was time to stop wasting time and finish the book. 

I had been in Vermont spending some time with family and have a few grand adventures exploring New England. It was unfortunate timing, really, because I was there the summer that Hurricane Irene hit. I remember holding up in a house on a few acres that overlooked nothing but green hills covered in lush trees, miles and miles of hills that burst into color in the autumn. Down below—I don't recall how far down exactly—flowed the Ottauguechee River. For days, rain pounded down upon the house, the earth, flooding the ground forcing the edges of the river to disappear beneath a torrent of water. 

A small pond I used to walk by on my daily walks. By MK
When the rain subsided, the rush of the river could be heard from the hilltop house, though we had yet to see the damage to the village. About this time, I longed to return home to Montana. I'd been gone long enough and was ready to leave, but it wasn't quite time. I spent the next few months visiting Maine, spending time with family, and enjoying life . . . for the most part. I began to feel poorly, lacking the energy I usually prided myself upon. Rather than waking before dawn with great enthusiasm, I could barely get out bed. Instead of my preferred three to four mile walks, I couldn't make it a quarter mile before my legs felt like lead weights. 

River Road in Bigfork, MT by MK
My invigorating exercise routines became a thing of the past, though I managed to keep my appetite. My already sensitive skin became even more so. It wasn't until I was speaking with my sister-in-law, who knew a thing or two about medicine and the ailments that plague the area, that I figured out what was wrong—black mold. My lovely office with a window overlooking those glorious green hills, was the source of said mold. Apparently that  hurricane that whipped through New England had managed to wreak havoc on the foundation of the beautiful home I was renting. 

It was definitely time to return to Montana. 

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After I learned of the problem and contacted the owners, I began to pack and set my course for home. When I arrived at the lovely house on Flathead Lake that I'd rented before, I was in my own little version of heaven. My pup, Nara, and I puttered around the big house, enjoying the space, but for me, the most wonderful thing was the quiet—absolute quiet. Because I wasn't feeling quite myself yet and lacked the energy or desire to socialize, I spent every spare moment finishing Gallagher's Pride. Those long winters nights with the firing roaring were exactly what I needed to recuperate and finish my first book. 

It took me almost a year to recover from the ill affects of the mold, but I managed to release three books during that year and start working on the fourth.  I suppose this is when I insert one of those sayings about making lemonade or seizing the moment, but in truth, that illness was both a blessing and a burden.

I cursed the hurricane and the circumstances surrounding what I scathingly call "The Black Mold Incident," though I sometimes wonder if something beautiful didn't in fact emerge from that horrible experience. Had I not fallen ill and sequestered myself, would I have finished the book when I did, or would I have delayed its completion because life somehow got in the way? I like to believe I would, though timing is often everything, and I believe it was simply time for me to become an author. 

Have you ever had one of life's unfortunate events turn into something positive?

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