In the mid 1970s I returned to sea-going after eight years ashore broadening my technical knowledge. I was at a bit of a loss at the time, having reached the pinacle of an ambition and found the view unattractive to me.
Sea-going was easy. It paid the bills while I reassessed where I wanted to go next.
I'd sold a couple of short stories to magazines and written a more lengthy article in a technical magazine and thought a writing life offered more challenges than a technical one, but three school-age children and a nervous wife suggested caution, so I set out to write my first novel length fiction, choosing something I knew intimately, sea-going.
My first draft was 109,000 words long and not very good. My second draft was better, and encouraged me to progress to my tenth draft, all typed on a cheap portable typewriter. My next leave was spent talking to people in publishing, assessing the environment and it rewards.
It wasn't encouraging and the odds of success were too low for my responsibilities and I decided to look elsewhere for personal satisfaction and monetary reward.
I've never regretted that decision because my technical career provided many rewards and satisfactions.
Retirement came early and I returned to writing, not for its financial rewards, but for its challenge.
I'd continued to write for relaxation over the years and, typically, I planned my foray into publication carefully, deciding on a process that offered the most feedback...competitions.
It took me two years, but I won two national contests and a contract to write five books for a small Australian romance publisher.
Tweve years later, I've survived the demise of three publishers and still sit down at my writing computer each day with a sense of anticipation.
That brings us back to my original novel, written all those years ago.
Of all my books, it was my eldest daughter's favourite. (I thinks she sees something of herself in its heroine.) Yet, it is locked in the 1970s by cicumstances and attitudes and specific to Australia so I considered it too limited for publication outside of Australia. She didn't agree and kept nudging me to revisit it.
My immediate problem lay in its format, I had the ten drafts in hard copy, each bound in its lever-arch folder, but no computer file, so I re-read all ten and began at the beginning again.
Three drafts later, I had a freshly written story that captured my 1970s thoughts and presented them with current skills...except for the beginning! None of the thirteen versions seemed right, but I took the best of them and submitted it.
Erin Lale, of Eternal Press, confirmed my fears, but her comments focused my mind and I recast the story, particularly the beginning, and began a fourth electronic draft, which she accepted.
I don't have a release date yet, but "Coasting" will see the light of day sometime this year and its long voyage will be over.