My editor asked me to share some of my works in progress (WIPs) with all of you, so I’m going to do as he asked. Reluctantly, I might add. Ahem.
Maybe I don’t speak for most writers, but this is where I get a little wigged out. I didn’t become comfortable telling people I wrote anything until a few short years ago, and even now, I’m nervous discussing it.
When we do open up to complete strangers or friends, or in casual conversation at a party or over dinner—we writers are invariably asked, “What do you write?”
I don’t know about you, but this questions scares the living shit out of me.
Because writers, like most artists, are solitary creatures. Even those who express their art in acting, dance, music, on stage, television, or in film, have tendencies to feel uncomfortable with too many people in the personal bubble.
Writers tend to be on the extreme end of the introverted spectrum. I realize this is a generalization, but dammit—I’m talking about myself here, so bear with me.
What do I write?
Most of my writing involves a healing or cathartic theme. If you’ve been following my column, you have seen over the last several weeks how I’ve addressed some tough topics and written about why I write, as well as making time to write. I’ve tackled everything from suicide, eating disorders, growing up with alcoholics and drug addicts, the estrangement of my own children, how two of my kids are transgender (and I’m freaking proud of it!), and how I don’t take anyone’s shit anymore. You know, that strong woman “warrior” thing I have going.
So, now that I’ve let it all hang out, I’m going to reveal my innermost self with you today and tell you what I write, as well as share some of it with you.
I’ve written one novel and nearly completed a second. Both are what the industry would categorize as Women’s Fiction. For those who may not know, this genre is about flawed but powerful women who overcome many obstacles to find their place, purpose, and their inner happiness. It’s not Romance, although there are some elements of relationship in both novels. Writing anything to do with romance or sex scenes makes me cringe, so most of what I write in regards to relationships tends to be about the dynamics, good or bad.
A year ago August, at my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner, my husband and I were seated with Wesley, his soon-to-be bride, Molly, her parents, and my ex, Wesley’s father. It was not as awkward as it could have been. Thomas and I successfully co-parented and got along well after our divorce, and he was pleasant. The subject of my first novel came up. Wesley’s mother-in-law asked me, “What do you write about, Kim?”
I looked at my son, and with trepidation I began to explain my book. Now, at this point in time, I wasn’t as secure about myself as a writer. What secure really looks like, I don’t know.
I had not been published, except for a reader contribution piece I had done for MORE Magazine in April 2013. That piece was a creative non-fiction story I sent in on a whim. Looking back, it was my way to test the waters, to see if anyone would even give a crap about my work.
When I summarized my first novel to those seated at the table, about a woman who, in her early 50’s, returns to her place of birth and realizes the life she had pursued was not what she wanted after all, my son said, “Oh, so you wrote about yourself.” He grinned, in his fantastic and handsome way, as the words hung in the air on ethereal wings of sarcasm and skepticism.
I simply mirrored that grin and sarcasm and said, “Of course my book is partially autobiographical. All fiction is truth at some point.”
Everyone had a good chuckle. My husband spoke up in his quiet, but strong manner, and he said, “Wes, her book is really good. Even I couldn’t stop reading it, and I’m not a big reader.”
I was so grateful for John at that moment. He kind of swooped in as my knight and protected my honor. Then again, I was probably imagining that everyone thought my book was silly and egocentric. I mean, I am a writer. I make up shit in my head. ALL THE TIME.
And THIS is why it’s hard for some writers to talk about their work—especially with people with whom we are, or have been, close.
All of my writing is autobiographical, even the fiction. Of course it is. It’s my story, my words, my life experiences, and my imagination coming to life on the page. Most have heard the old adage, “Write what you know.” That’s how I roll. What I found during the writing process, especially in my fiction work, is that I also write about what I don’t know, and I answer questions for myself in the process. Everything I write has some element of me in the ink and between the lines. Everything.
So, some may think this is silly, or not a good way to go about writing a novel. That’s okay. It seems to be working for me so far. My first novel is now in the revision process, and my goal is to have it ready for self-publication by the first of the year.
I also write short stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Some of them are deep and questioning. Some are funny. Some are raging at the injustices of life, especially those thrust upon women and marginalized populations.
As I stated before, I had a creative nonfiction piece, The Pull of Strays, published in MORE Magazine online, back when they took reader contributions. You cannot reach that piece from their website anymore, but I will post it on my blog website soon so you may read it.
I also had a poem published on the cover of a local newsletter of the women’s domestic shelter in Bartlesville, OK in 1995. The poem was about my experience being molested at age eleven and overcoming some of the obstacles that trauma put in my life as a young woman, wife, and mother. Also, in 1994 and 1995, I won first place in two writing contests sponsored by The Bartlesville Library, Friends of the Library. One poem, “Spirit Awakening” won first place, the other, “Mother,” won second. I have shared them on my blog website www.kimbaileydeal.net for you to read.
“Spirit Awakening” was also published by Firefly Magazine: A Journal of Luminous Writing, in their 3rd issue online. Firefly also featured my short story in the same issue, Nu Na Da Ul Tsun Yi (The Place Where They Cried). You may read both the poem and short story via this link: http://bit.ly/2bGDt87.
I also had the honor to be a guest blogger for Senior Editor, Robert Lee Brewer’s There Are No Rules Blog on www.writersdigest.com, the title of the blog: It’s Never Too Late Until You Don’t Do It, published on May 19, 2016.
Finally, I have a creative nonfiction piece being published by Pilcrow & Dagger in their August/September issue, Giggles Galore, which you can order online in digital format or buy in print on August 26, 2016 at this link: http://bit.ly/2bXghnJ.
Writing is how I make sense of the world and my inner conflict, the burning questions, the pain, the joys and sorrows of life. My work has, so far, been received well by a host of friends, family, and followers. As I gear up to self-publish my first novel in a few months, I am aware this is another stepping stone, one of many, I must traverse to reach my goals.
It’s one of life’s ironies and I can’t help but laugh at myself. Me—and emotional introvert—writing stories, poems, nonfiction, and a column for people to see every part of my soul. I can only hope my novel(s) will be as honest and entertaining, as well as thought-provoking, as my work has been to date.
One thing’s for sure, if you like novels about badass women who take on the status quo and kick conventional bootie, my books should be on your TBR list when they publish.
Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, and non-fiction. She is currently revising her first novel and finishing her second, as well as co-editing an anthology. Publications: MORE Magazine’s Member Voices, The Pull of Strays; Issue 3 of Firefly Magazine, A Journal of Luminous Writing; Writer’s Digest as part of editor Robert Lee Brewer’s blog. She lives in Chattanooga, TN and is the mother of four grown children, three boys and one girl, and “Nim” to her husband’s grandchildren. To connect, she can be found at kimbaileydeal.net, Kim Bailey Deal Page on Facebook, @wordjunkie1966 on Twitter