I remember it so clearly. I’d just crawled out of my claw foot bathtub—the one luxurious thing in the drafty old house I couldn’t afford to heat. My body steamed in the frigid bathroom. It was COLD, baby. Forty-eight degrees, to be exact. Inside my house. How do I know? Because when I dried off and dressed, I went downstairs—shivering—and wrote this on the front of a discarded notebook I’d dug out of the trash at work and filled with paper I punched myself:
As usual, I’d been dreaming of Somerled while in the tub. He went from living in a cave to reigning as King of the Isles. I could dig myself out of a mess, too. Couldn’t I? All I had to do was write just one awesome book–maybe about Somerled!–and I’d land on Easy Street. Of course I know better now. Such instant success is an anomaly, as any author not named JK Rowling or EL James will tell you. But over the years, I clung to my dream. I clung to Somerled. I plodded onward with SCENT OF THE SOUL in my spare time, which was anything but plentiful.
One night, when I was craving a cheap read, I stopped off at Cupboard Maker Books in Enola. JACKPOT! They had an entire section of how-to writing books. God bless the person who cleaned out her library that day. I bought more than I could afford. Hey, what was a few more weeks of eating expired foods from the local dented can store, right?
GOD BLESS YOU, DENTED CAN STORE!
Those books taught me a lot. They also broke the sorrowful news that publication wasn’t going to solve my financial woes. I could have given up then and there, but as my husband will attest, I have a stubborn streak. I’d started something, and damn it, I was going to finish it. So, I kept writing, studying, writing some more.
In the middle of my work-in-progress, its “love knows no bounds” theme took on a personal meaning. It was then that I married my Irish spouse, and it was then that US Immigration denied him a visa. We were the red-headed stepchildren. I don’t know why – they just hated us. Our legal battle took nearly four incredibly long and lonely years to win. During that time, he was forbidden from visiting, and with little money and only seventeen paid vacation/sick days per year, I was only able to visit Ireland once every six to eight months.
Our love survived on Skype chats and emails. I survived by writing SCENT. The hellish separation robbed me of more than my husband; it also stripped me of the last years of my fertility. Publication became my only hope of letting part of myself behind on this Earth. SCENT became my child, a living thing developing deep inside me.
That living thing was born this week. Please visit my new baby at Amazon Hospital’s maternity ward. I can’t figure out how to insert an Amazon link yet, so you’ll just have to search for SCENT OF THE SOUL by Julie Doherty. As of this afternoon, my child was one of the cool kids, sitting in the Top 100 in three categories.
Like every excited parent, I videotaped the birth, and I’m going to force you to watch it. Enjoy it while thinking of me choking down yet another bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, one that tastes just like the can it’s been in for the past ten years.