Book: House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
Genre: Literary Fiction
Have you ever been so attached to a house that you couldn't stand
the thought of leaving it? So attached, in fact, that instead of selling it and seeing it turned over to new owners who could do anything at all with it, you'd rather burn it down?
How I got out of public bathrooms and started writing
A lot of people ask me how I got into writing fiction. The answer is that I’ve been writing my whole life—diaries and stories when I was a kid, journals in college, a career in journalism after college. I always wanted to write a novel, but couldn't come up with an idea I cared enough about to actually want to write an entire book. Then a few years ago I moved across country. I was so miserable over leaving my house, my neighborhood, my friends, and a place I loved, that suddenly I had something I cared about deeply, almost too much.
That’s what gave me the idea for the book, about a woman who cares too much about a home and way of life she has to give up. I wrote the first paragraph, then put it away. My grief over moving was still too intense, too raw. I started working as a barista at a local coffee shop in my small town, mainly because it got me out of the house and helped me meet people. I dreamt up a guy named Mr. Tall Vanilla Latte, and wrote a couple more chapters. Then I panicked: I had never written fiction, not even a short story, and had no idea what I was doing. Who was I to attempt a novel? I looked around for classes, thinking that might at least help me get through a few more chapters. But any local classes I found were either too far away, or didn’t work with my family’s schedule. Finally, I found an online class with mediabistro.com. It sounds crazy—“Finish your novel in 12 weeks”—but the class gave me instruction, deadlines, and most importantly, feedback from the teacher and other writers, who all seemed interested in my story and urged me to keep writing.
I wrote in the morning after my kids went to school, or late at night after they were in bed. I was still working as a freelance journalist and reporting and writing magazine articles during much of the day. The chapters kept piling up.
Then two things happened. My mother, who is always sending me newspaper articles and inspirational quotes she clips out of various publications, sent me a one-sentence quote. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It read: “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Write a novel, I thought. Of course. Secondly, my husband said, “Just finish the book. Even if it never gets published, to actually write an entire novel is a major accomplishment you can always be proud of. You’ll have that your whole life.” Of course.
So I went back to it. I took the same novel writing class again, and cranked out the next chapters, word by word, sentence by sentence. And finally, on a magical day in January of 2007, I had a novel, an entire, whole, complete book.
I sent out a few letters blindly to agents, and was overwhelmed with the response. Within a month, I had an agent, and several publishers who were interested in the book. At the time, I was in the middle of reporting a story for a woman’s magazine on “How to avoid germs in public restrooms.” The editor had called asking if I’d spend a day in a public bathroom observing hand-washing and other behaviors. The next day my agent called with an offer for my novel from Voice, the publisher I’d liked the most. I was over the moon. Along with all the excitement of having a lifelong dream come true, was the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to take a break from writing magazine articles and never have to consider spending eight hours in a public bathroom again.
Don't you just love that story? I think it's perfect! Thanks so much, Kathy, for sharing it with us and stopping by today as part of your blog tour blitz!So, back to my original question... HAVE you ever been too attached to a house? Where you able to let go? Or did you decide not to move? And what made you so attached? The house itself? The love you put into it? The memories there? The location? Comment with your story.
Also, check out other blog tours planned by TLC Book Tours here.