When I was nine years old I had my first-ever creative writing assignment at school. I remember it well; I was supposed to partner with a classmate and we were to come up with the story together, but I completely hogged the project. I deigned to let my co-author add a character name and illustrate the final page, but aside from that it was to be my instant best-seller. Owing to my extensive historical research using the MS/DOS Oregon Trail game, I wrote about Sue Perkins, a gallant miss who leaves on the Oregon Trail with her family, takes over leadership of the wagon train, fends off an entire Indian attack single-handedly, and then tragically dies of cholera just as the wagon train reaches Oregon.
That was all, but it was enough. I dabbled in creative writing all throughout elementary school and high school–even writing a long, interesting, but poorly researched novel about the Civil War and submitting it to about seven different publishing companies when I was sixteen. I was young, naive, and had never heard of getting an editor. Of course it was returned, understandably rejected, and with it my dreams of being an author for a while. I did a few fairytales for fun, but otherwise I gave up on the writing when I went to college. There were plenty of papers to occupy my time!
Then, five years ago, I told my husband I wanted to start writing again. He had read some of the shorter works I saved, and with his usual confidence in me–supplying what I lacked–he encouraged me to begin, and so I did. It’s taken all of those five years, sometimes taking a break to pursue other less meaningful hobbies, and sometimes falling prey to the pseudo well-meaning mantra “you-have-x-number-of-children-so-you-can’t-possibly-accomplish-anything-outside-child-rearing.” Let me beg you–never tell a woman that. NEVER. Trust rather that she has a brain and can figure out how to manage a hobby and raise her children well at the same time. Nothing shatters self-confidence more than those words “you can’t possibly.” End digression. So yes, the novel spent some time on the back burner and I never blogged about it except once or twice, mainly out of fear that I wouldn’t finish it and then people would see my failings. But my husband never lost faith in me even when I did, and urged me to keep going. And so I did.
And now it is done.
I present to you: Joy in the Ordinary
Joyce “Joy” Barrett thought she had her life all figured out, until one day her hopes and dreams for something extraordinary came crashing to the ground. Feeling lost without a purpose, she follows her family’s urging and takes a job hundreds of miles from home at an Irish restaurant and pub in small-town Indiana. Here, amongst new friends and new interests, she must come to terms with her wrecked dreams and choose whether to hold onto the past or learn to find joy in the ordinary.