One of our very own became a published author yesterday. Aidan Donnelley Rowley, author of “Life After Yes.” Oooo, my heart did a little jump. And why? I hardly know her. But then, many times when I read her blog (Ivy League Insecurities) or she leaves a comment or sends an email, I feel like we are long-lost friends, keeping in touch through the convenience of the internet.
I discovered Aidan through her blog a few months after I began my own. I was immediately taken with her philosophical musings. Her lyrical phrasing. When she shared with us the excitement of having her book published I was instantly caught up in the joy. She was kind enough to share her thoughts on the process, the journey and the yes.
1. Tell the truth, is this your very first attempt at publishing a novel?
Yes, this was and is my first attempt at publishing a novel. I will say that I took my time with Life After Yes, starting it immediately after leaving my job at the law firm and working on it, on and off, for over three years before seeking an agent. I must add that I welcomed my two little girls during that time, so I was not a complete slacker! :)
2. Many authors talk about books “writing themselves.” Did you have a plan or outline or did LAY write itself?
I had no outline for Life After Yes, but I did have a vague plan in my mind for how the story would evolve. There were certainly parts of the book that “wrote themselves”; I would sit there for hours on end in my local Starbucks pounding away at the keyboard and then be amazed to have a dozen pages wherein my characters did things I never predicted they would.
3. What was the greatest challenge bringing your novel to life?
Frankly, I – and I imagine most authors – faced many challenges in bringing my novel to life. Among the biggest were time and confidence. As a mother of two young girls, it was hard to find adequate time to sit down and focus and write. And it continues to be very hard for me to justify spending time away from them which writing a novel patently entails. And confidence. There were so many points during the writing process where I was plagued by doubts, where I convinced myself that my story would never cut it. Once I realized that it didn’t matter, that I loved to write and that completing the story – no matter its fate – was my goal, things really came together.
4. What is the best advice you can give hopeful authors?
Just write. Allow your first drafts to be terrible. Tease out your voice. Take writing classes. Don’t mimic. Be willing to fail. Be willing to succeed.
5. What books have most influenced you?
My favorite book of all time is Charlotte’s Web. This book plays an important role in Life After Yes and has continued to be a big influence in my life. There are so many things about this book that speak to me – the simple and stunning nature of its prose, the universality of its lessons about life and love and loss, the commingling sweetness and sadness at its core.
6. Writer’s Block. How have you overcome it?
Blogging. Before I started my blog Ivy League Insecurities, I dealt with writer’s block by not writing. I would only write when I felt a particularly compelling urge and when the sentences flowed freely. The result was that there would be large chunks of time – weeks and months – when I wouldn’t write a word. Not good. The discipline of blogging and keeping to a schedule of posting five times a week has kept my literary juices flowing. The problem now is trying to find a balance between blog writing and book writing…
7. You are a mother of two adorable little girls and a wife to a devoted husband. How did you balance time for your family and time to write?
Looking back over the past few years, I feel good about how I balanced things between my family and my writing. I have been able to be a very hands-on mom and present wife while also being productive professionally. But – and it is a bit but –never once did I feel like I was doing a good job at balancing these things in the moment. Each and every day, I worry that I am neglecting something or someone in the existential equation of my life. I am just now realizing that this is par for the course and that balance is something of an enigma.
8. Describe the perfect day for writing.
The perfect day for writing is one that is busy and full of other good things – time with friends and family – but full of bits of time where I can sit down – in my office, or at a coffee shop – and bang out a blog post or a few pages of a manuscript. I do better with fitting writing into the cracks of my days – early mornings, between commitments, late at night – than I do with the open expanse of an entire day.
9. If you could have a “do over” for anything involving the writing/publishing process for LAY what would it be?
Good question. Tough question. I can honestly say – and know that this is before publication so I might feel differently even days from now – that I have been genuinely happy with how everything has gone with the publication process. There have been bumps. Of course. I struggled a bit with the title choice and cover choice, but I sit here now (yes, at Starbucks!) clutching my rookie novel and it is gorgeous and has the perfect title and perfect cover so it is all worth it. One thing I do wish is that I was able to enjoy the process a bit more. That I was able to worry a bit less. That I was able to control my insecurities a bit better. But, alas. I am here. And it’s a good place to be :)