First Love

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.07.50 PMDorothy Cannell: My first book The Thin Woman was published in 1984. After some serious finger counting (my math level being a first grade C-) I realized that’s thirty years ago. Hard on the heels of that thought came the memory of the wonderfully, magical year I spent writing it. The children would leave for school in the mornings. I’d clear the kitchen table and heft my manual typewriter (purchased second hand by husband for fifty dollars) onto it and give myself three hours in the world of my characters and a house named Merlin’s Court. I knew nothing about publishing, the vagaries of the market, or even that there were such people as literary agents.

I had fallen in love with a story about a young woman who’d been given the opportunity to live a fairy story, tinged with the menace of evil that inhabits those of the suitably named brothers Grimm. I did not know I was writing a mystery. I thought of it as a gothic frolic.

Yes, I dreamed of selling what was then called Cobwebs and Candlelight, I fantasized about seeing my name on the cover and imagined the shower of amazed congratulations received. But that was secondary to reveling in tapping out the story Ellie (narrating character) was telling me sentence by sentence, page by page. No pressure to write something as good as or better than had gone before. No deadline. No glimmer that this was the start of my Ellie Haskell series.

When I meet writers aspiring to be published I understand their yearning to have their book accepted and published; and I say, “Treasure this time when it’s just you and your story. It is a time that will never come again. There will be others in the future, perhaps better written, more matured, richer, but the process may not have that sparkling optimism that comes with writing your first love.”

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Responses to First Love

  1. Dorothy, thanks for the reminder that writing can be a joy, especially as I start a new book and struggle with getting new words on the screen. It’s also timely to remind me that the process is much more pleasant in one way–I no longer have to type on a manual typewriter with carbon paper!

    Kathy/Kaitlyn

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  2. Lea Wait says:

    Beautifully put, Dorothy! The first book – or even two – that’s written to test oneself, and to tell a story the best way you can – no deadlines; no contracts … there’s a joy in that we sometimes forget after writing becomes, ultimately, a business. Thanks for reminding us.

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  3. Yes, I remember that delicious, first book time. You capture it so well. I hope to recapture that wonderful state by starting earlier on the next book and therefore having a longer stretch to deadlines.
    Thanks for the memories . . .

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  4. Linda Meadows says:

    I just finished reading The Thin Woman on Tuesday, having ‘discovered’ Ms Cannell on this blog. The book was delightful. I am really looking forward to many evenings with Ellie. My local library seems to have many of them.

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  5. Barb Ross says:

    Dorothy, thanks for the reminder of simpler times. I took an incremental approach to my first book. “Let’s see if I can write a first draft with a beginning, middle and end.” “Let’s see if I can write a second draft that makes it better.” And finally, “Let’s see if I can sell this thing.”

    I never wrote a novel on a typewriter, but my earliest “work, work” was produced on one. Massive procedural manuals for HHS and HUD. Sometimes the pages had so many layers of whiteout on them, they looked like topological maps.

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  6. Anne Mosey says:

    I LOVED the Ellie Haskell series! The first one I read was How to Murder the Man of Your Dreams. The title & cover got me, but then I had to read all the rest.

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    • Thank you so much. Glad you enjoy the Ellie Series and starting a new book I need all encouragement I can get. Sorry this is late but have been away and had trouble getting emails. All best, Dorothy.

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  7. Before I was published, I heard pubbed authors complaining about deadlines and issues with publishers, and all the marketing. I’d think, what is wrong with you? You’re a published author! I just want to be published. LOL I didn’t understand the freedom I had to take the time and enjoy the story. But I wouldn’t go back for anything. For all the pressures, costs, time. No, I’m thrilled to be a published author with a 3rd book coming out in March. We are blessed. Thanks for the reminder of earlier times, Dorothy.

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  8. Her words, “Treasure this time when it’s just you and your story. It is a time that will never come again. There will be others in the future, perhaps better written, more matured, richer, but the process may not have that sparkling optimism that comes with writing your first love.” mean the WORLD to me. So true.

    Thank you, thank you for this.

    All best January wishes,

    Sharon

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