Updated: Jan 3
(Read the original post from 9/13/19)
I began to sleep more soundly. I felt happy again. I knew I was going to be okay. Prior to writing, I wondered if the experience would swallow me whole. I wondered if my fears of storms and loud crashing sounds, would continue forever. So, I continued to write. With each chapter, my fears of being published, became loud. I didn’t think I could put my words out there. I felt too exposed and vulnerable.
Creating a character and writing about her traumas from the aftermath of a hurricane, allowed me to see the events from above. I deeply felt the pain and fear return during times of my writing, however I also felt relief once the words formulated another chapter. Every piece of writing I felt satisfied with, ended the storm again. Writing helped put the experience into perspective in a way that therapy could not replicate.
I imagined publishing under an unrecognizable pen name. I wouldn’t advertise on Facebook that I wrote a book. Throughout the writing process, I only told a couple of people that I was writing, with the intent of publishing. I didn’t share details of the book. I feared criticism and advice. I didn’t want feedback. I wanted to keep writing until I felt the book was complete. I wanted this story out there, even if I didn’t receive any of the credit.
In order for me to complete Miles of Trees, I needed to imagine no-one would ever read it or know that I wrote it.
Nine months after beginning my novel, I wrote the last chapter. I celebrated quietly. I began the editing process of reading it from beginning to end. I re-wrote the first chapter. I took out scenes. I rearranged sections. I re-wrote the first chapter again. I caught mistakes in grammar. I put it down for a month. I picked it back up again and re-wrote the first chapter. I could not read through the manuscript without making considerable edits to each chapter. I re-wrote the first chapter so many times, that I have lost count.
I maintained my full time job, as a Licensed Midwife and my side jobs as an instructor for two universities, while writing Miles of Trees.
I utilized every opportunity I had to write or edit my manuscript. If I had ten minutes before the dinner in the oven was complete, I wrote. I read sections while I ate breakfast. I spent hours in coffee shops, after a full day of clinic appointments, glued to my laptop screen. I’ve drowned myself in hot tea and kombucha throughout the writing and editing process.
All along, I felt drawn to this book, like ocean waves that call to me from the beach. I have needed to write more, to read it again, to change one more thing. This need drove me to complete the manual and it continues to drive me to seek a literary agent and/or a publisher. I want this book to be out in the world.
So much of my being is wrapped within those pages and I will be set free again and again through each step of this process.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
September 24, 2019