The Horse Connection
My mom told me my first word was “horse” rather than “mama.” That, I believe, was a fabrication – I don’t personally remember – but I was horse-crazy from a very young age. I saved up and bought my first horse when I was 15. Marriage and motherhood caused me to sell my horses when there just wasn’t a spare moment to ride. So I was horseless for about 7 years, but once my girls were getting old enough to ride and we had a home on an acre, it was time to start riding again.
What, you ask, does that have to do with writing? Well, buying horses got me involved with a small horse association. That involvement eventually led to me volunteering to do the monthly newsletter. After so many articles such as “winter is here; give your horse more grain,” I grew bored with those pieces. I started writing more creative things, like what my filly looked like running through the snow beside her dam. There was something about that regular writing exercise that stirred up a desire in me. I didn’t identify what that desire was for many months, but it was there, all the same.
I few months later, I read an article in the newspaper about a local author who had sold her first romance novel. Talk about stirring up a desire in me. For the first time, I thought of writing as something more than a fun thing to do in private, something just for me. It was possible to write a novel and get it published. The desire began to morph into a dream.
The Infamous Statement
The desire that morphed into a dream (see previous post) brought along with it the kernel of an idea for a novel. My favorite novels at the time were sweeping historical sagas, and one of my all time favorite books was Gone With the Wind. So it wasn’t a surprise that the idea was set in the South before and during the Civil War. While that kernel was getting ready to pop, I continued my reading habit, devouring novels one after the other.
And then came that fateful day, that fateful book. It was A-W-F-U-L!! It was cardboard. The characters were wooden. And so I spoke the infamous words (or a variation thereof) that have launched many writing careers, including my own: “If that author can get published, I can get published.”
Well, let me tell you. Usually that statement reveals total ignorance. When we say those words before we’ve written and revised and edited one or more of our own, we have no clue how hard it is to write a book. Writing for fun and writing a novel for publication are two different things. A novel needs interesting characters who readers can identify with. A novel needs a plot. A novel needs good pacing. A novel needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. And none of those things happen without effort.
But I spoke those words, and within a few weeks I knew I had to put my money where my mouth was, as the cliche goes. So in March 1981, I took a yellow legal pad and a pen and I wrote the opening line of what would become my first novel: Morning burst upon the fields of Spring Haven with bright sunshine and blue skies.
Here’s one thing I have learned since 1981: We must always write our best if we are serious about a writing career, but we can only write the best book we are capable of at the time.
I poured myself into that story. I bought a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style to brush up on my grammar. I bought Civil War research books and immersed myself in them. I read books on manuscript format and plotting and characterization. And I wrote. And wrote. Lying in bed at night after my kids were asleep, I wrote my novel on yellow pads. The next day at work, I would type the manuscript on the office IBM Selectric during lunch hours and coffee breaks. I turned my imagination loose in a whole new way.
I finished the book eight months later. Now what? I wondered.
Check back for more of my Fact and Fiction posts coming soon.
In the meantime, be advised that my newest novel releases next month, so keep your eyes peeled for your copy of You’ll Think of Me. You can pre-order now and you’ll find links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook here. I’m so excited to share this book with you.
Publishers Weekly: “Hatcher, award-winning author of more than 75 books, (The Shepherd’s Voice) once again takes readers on a journey of hope, patience, and love with her story of a deeply wounded woman who has no choice but to return to her childhood hometown … These characters, and the reader, are in for a heartwarming journey of redemption, forgiveness, and embracing the future.”
RT Book Reviews: “This story, infused with the wonder of God’s love, will have inspirational romance readers holding on tightly to Hatcher’s latest. The storytelling genuinely expresses the themes of faith, loss, disappointment and love in raw, honest language. Derek and Brooklyn’s journey to discovering what God has planned for them is one that will touch readers’ hearts. With two strong, genuine characters that readers will feel compassion for and a heartwarming modern-day plot that inspires, Hatcher’s romance is a wonderfully satisfying read.”