Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Babies and Books and Beginnings, Oh My!

You can never go wrong with a little Wizard of Oz.

It's serendipitous that "Beginnings" is the theme of the month for my first time blogging at YAOTL. No brainer, right? I should hit this one out of the park.

I've been thinking about beginnings a lot lately, anyway. I always do around this time of year, mainly because as a student and later as a community college English teacher my years have always been organized around the school calendar, so I think of late August/early September as the real beginning of the year, even though my own birthday is in January, so you'd think I'd have more of a pro-January bias. 

This is the first year in a long time...wait, in ever—my mom, also a teacher, had me in some kind of school from the beginning—that I haven't been going back to school.

Instead, I'm having a baby (due September 15) and handling the release of my debut novel, a YA historical fiction titled The Last Sister (releasing October 15). You can't get much closer to beginning than a new baby and a new book. Except for all the hard work of pregnancy and writing, revising, and editing that came before, of course, which I guess supports the old cliché that every beginning is also an end.

I'm also querying a new (and totally different) novel, so it's time for a new beginning for that project, as well.

It's no secret that beginnings can be scary. In both my writing and my personal life, I often struggle with procrastination, with getting started, because I'm scared I won't be successful at whatever it is I set out to do. I'll think about a writing project for days (weeks, years, whatever) before starting. I'll think of a million organizational tasks that need to be completed before I can possibly work. 

I've gotten raised eyebrows from more than a few people about the baby/book debuts being so close together, but in a weird way, it's perfect timing for me. You know how I feel about both of them? Excited, apprehensive, terrified, thrilled. You know how I feel about the project I'm querying? Excited, apprehensive, terrified, thrilled. 

The thing that grabs us at the beginning of a story is the same thing that grabs us in life. When we open to the first page of a new book we don't know what's going to happen. That's how I feel about all these beginnings: I don't know what's going to happen. That's really scary. And also really exciting, because how boring would it be if I knew exactly what was going to happen? I might be less terrified, but I'd also be less thrilled.

I'll tell you something else about having a first baby and releasing a first novel at the same time: I don't know what I'm doing with either one, but both of them arriving together means that they conveniently distract me from each other so I can't get too obsessed (read: totally crazy) with either one.

What's just beginning for you this fall? How are you feeling about it?


  1. Congratulations on both your achievements! What amazing experience!

  2. What an exciting time for you! I've always said that waiting for your first novel to launch is a bit like having a baby and here you are experiencing both magical things at once! Congratulations and best wishes!

  3. Thanks so much, everyone! Jen, doing both things at once has been such an enlightening experience. I'm finding there are so many emotional--and even physical--similarities. Like here at the end--I kinda just want them both out in the world because I feel like they're ready. And I am definitely ready!

  4. Yes! Congrats on both, Courtney! And congrats on the STARRED Kirkus review for THE LAST SISTER. Quite an achievement.

  5. I was just talking yesterday with some friends about writing, and we agreed that writing is like parenting: really hard work you absolutely love! As a writer, you're totally prepared to be a mother. I'm thrilled and excited for you too as you embark on these new adventures, and I admire your courage in tackling them both at once! :)