I first met Linda when I co-hosted a live video show alongside Lynne Cobine from Box of Words. Linda’s story fascinated me. As one of the first female forest fire fighters (now that’s a tongue twister!) in the US, her role sounded both challenging and rewarding. Listening to her story, I admired Linda’s tenacity, something she’s clearly carried over into her writing career.
That said, please join me in giving Linda a warm welcome as she tells us how her writing journey began.
Who Knew I Could Write a Book?
I never set out to write a book. In fact, writing a book was never something I wanted to do, or thought I could do. So why did I write one? Well, the journey began after my life fell apart.
Fourteen years ago, I ended my unhappy twenty-three year marriage. Then I lost my job. I found another one, but fear settled into my stomach that my career would not be stable. Two years later, I was laid off yet again. Three months after that, my mom, who was my best friend, died. I sank into the deepest depression, wondering if I could every climb out.
With the economy in dire condition, finding another job proved impossible. For two years I applied to everything and anything I thought I qualified for, which was not much, and then I started applying for jobs I didn’t qualify for. With all of this free time, I began to think about my former career. The one I had to give up, even though I didn’t want to.
In the mid-1970s, I became one of the first women to fight fires for the U.S. Forest Service. My seven-year career, although challenging and tough at times, still held some of the best memories of my life. Prompted by my neighbor, who suggested I should write a book about my firefighting job, I thought to at least write down some of my adventures. Ninety pages later, I shared it with friends. They encouraged me to write more. Four-hundred fifty pages later, I realized I had written what now resembled a book.
However, now that I’d written one, I needed to find out if it was any good. I joined a writers group, and connected with a retired English teacher, who volunteered to help me with grammar and storyline. Many edits later, I felt comfortable with the story, and decided to try for traditional publishing. I began querying for a literary agent.
The querying and ongoing editing process took two years. Did I get discouraged? Sure I did. But I tapped into my tenacity to finish what I started. At one point, frustrated with editing something that just wasn’t working, I set the original manuscript aside. I knew I had a story worth telling, I just needed to figure out the best way to tell it. Therefore, I rewrote the first five chapters. That worked, and I landed a traditional book deal in January, 2017. My book was released into the world on May 1, 2018.
If you are thinking of giving up, that you can’t possibly get that story written, or find a publisher when you do, all I can say is don’t give up. Writing a book is hard, but who said it would be easy? I’m a perfect example of how important it is to believe in your story and to never, ever give up. Even if it means rewriting the darned thing to reach your goal.