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My daughter, Zoey

Yesterday I woke up at 5:45 am, got my two-year old daughter dressed and ready for school amidst screams of agony and fury (because waking up is horrible and she’s too young for coffee), got myself to work where I threatened upperclassmen with zeroes molded young minds, came home and worked out while my toddler terrorized the neighborhood, cooked dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, put my toddler to bed amidst howls of pain and terror (because “LEAVE THE LIGHTS ON, MOMMY!”), and finally, finally, finally sat down to work on my novel at approximately 8:23 pm.

I didn’t want to write. I didn’t feel particularly inspired. I was tired and grouchy and I wanted to keep watching “Lie to Me” and eat a cookie, but there’s a contract and a deadline and a promise to myself I mean to keep. I took a breath, set a timer for thirty minutes, and wrote. Thirty minutes turned into an hour, a completed chapter, and a quiet soul. For the first time in weeks, I felt sated.

I started writing early. I think I was six when I wrote my first short story, “The Man who was Blind.” It was followed rather quickly by “The Woman who was Deaf.” The week before I’d checked out a book about Helen Keller, so it was clear where the inspiration came from. Writing came easily to me. I was an anxious kid (hell, I’m an anxious adult!), but words always mellowed me out. I was hungry for them. Reading soothed me. Writing fed me. A degree in English seemed only natural, but there’s not much work for “professional reader” and I couldn’t seem to write anything besides sardonic blogs that dripped with disdain and dating angst.

officememe

So I became a high school English teacher. It was the perfect excuse to immerse myself in strings of words without having to do any creative work on my own. I convinced myself that no one wanted to read anything I wrote that was longer than a quippy 500 (800 if I’m lucky) word blog in a world where J.K. Rowling, Meg Cabot, and Sarah J. Maas existed.

I talked big about writing, about publishing, about creating something worthwhile, something people would read, but I didn’t pursue it. Not really. Not for a long time.

When I was 23, I dated a guy who told me I needed to be realistic about writing.

“You don’t really think you’ll publish a book, do you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, think about all the people in the world who want to be writers. What do you have that they don’t?”

It took me a week too long to break up with him, but then, fueled by anger, I wrote a novel. This was during the height of the YA world’s obsession with all things supernatural, thanks in large part to Twilight. My book took every supernatural trope in the YA world and turned it on its head. It was meant to be clever and satirical, but it was actually just terrible, and I cringe every time I look back at it. But the point is that I did it. I wrote (most of) a book. And it didn’t matter that it would never see the light of day or that it was completely ridiculous, because I wrote it.

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Me and my husband Casey

I met my husband in 2011 and the next few years flew by in a series of both fortunate (wedding, house, baby) and unfortunate (husband was diagnosed with cancer) events. I blogged off and on, sometimes more off than on, but didn’t work on another novel again until last spring when we were in the throes of dealing with cancer.

At that point, something just clicked. It was time – time to stop putting off the things I loved, time to stop procrastinating and making excuses, time to start writing, time to start living my passion.

I started writing a YA novel about a teenage girl with strange gold eyes, an evil twin sister, and an imaginary friend. (Shameless plug: If you’re interested, the first few chapters are posted on my blog. Start with the prologue.)

Not long after this, I had a weird dream about waking up in another life with memories of both. It was vivid and creepy and fascinating and it haunted me. And when I couldn’t shake it after a few days, I sat down and wrote it. I thought it was only a short story, but I was wrong. I’d find myself thinking about the characters in the middle of the grocery store or during a run or while playing pretend with my daughter. What were their names? What did they look like? What was the rest of their story? So, I wrote a little more.

It was around this time that a random guy named Andrew followed my blog. I didn’t have many followers, so I was curious about the few that weren’t friends or family. A few clicks and I’d found Endever. The company was just a baby, but I liked their vision, and they were looking for authors. I had a few pages, a rough outline, a huge dream, and nothing to lose, so I pitched my idea. A week later, I was signing a contract and panicking about deadlines because Oh, em gee, now I really have to write a book. Like, for real.

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The whole fam

And now here I am, sitting in my kitchen, blogging about writing a book instead of actually writing said book, wondering how I’ll ever finish either.

Ending this is probably a good start so –

Ciao, y’all.

Michelle

 

10 thoughts on “Author’s post- Michelle Underwood

  1. You could write a novel simply about your own life and it would be great. Love your sarcasm, your hope, and that little bit of anger bubbling under the surface of it all.
    You’re gonna be great Michelle. Just stuck with it!

    Liked by 1 person

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