Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Writing In My Car... With Patricia Sands

Good morning, y'all!

In today's Writing in my Car, author Patricia Sands talks about starting her writing journey -- the surprises, the excitement, how you even change your schedule to make it a part of your life.

Patricia is the author of The Bridge Club. What is this novel about, you ask? For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been "one for all and all for one." Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and nonjudgmental support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the exhilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the "zoomer" years, their connection never falters. As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue. After tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their "SOS".

Here's Patricia!

My first novel, The Bridge Club, was self-published in September through iUniverse and has received very positive feedback.

I’ve been a storyteller forever through photography and also in my career as an educator. One particular story had been simmering in my mind for years and five years ago I sat down to write it … just for fun. The story was about my “bridge club”, ten friends that have been together for over 40 years and some of the life experiences we shared.

As assorted people took a look at my writing, I was encouraged to consider approaching the story with a view to publishing. This suggestion created a shift in my perspective as I was not interested in publishing a memoir. Turning to fiction, the number of characters switched from ten to eight and although most of the issues in the story did occur, the details and circumstances in many of them have been altered. The characters became composites of real people.

Research was essential as I made certain my facts were correct. Hours were spent talking with people, listening to their stories and fabricating them into the novel I was crafting.

Never an early riser I found myself waking with a start at 6:30 in the morning, compelled to get to my computer and record the thoughts swirling through my mind. I became totally consumed by the story as it took on a life of its own. One of the great surprises of writing was to discover how characters actually began to direct my writing at times, taking me places I had not planned to go! I had heard other writers speak of this but never really believed it.

After four years I took a deep breath, decided I had completed a first draft, and handed the manuscript to my brother to read. He is an author and co-author of some amazing textbooks – used across Canada in high schools - and a proofreader extraordinaire … and I knew he would be brutally honest.

If you ask any writer, I believe most would confirm it is extremely difficult to declare a manuscript is finished, complete, needs no more work. There comes a time when you have to try to let go. Honestly, another aspect of this process is preparing yourself to let others read what you have written – I felt it was akin to taking my clothes off in public – and at my age, that’s particularly scary!

My brother took the manuscript on an Alaskan cruise he and his wife had planned. He said he wouldn’t contact me until they returned ten days later. On the day I knew I would hear from him I opened my e-mail with trepidation. What if he suggested I stick to photography? His subject line read “I loved it!” Whew!

From there I first followed the traditional query letter route. How I ended up self-publishing and that part of the journey is another 500 words – at least!


Thanks for stopping by, Patricia! Please visit Patricia over at her blog to read interviews and essays about the writing life.

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