Because we are friends
WHERE IS THERE?
All my life I’ve loved writing. The simple motion of the pencil creating words on blank paper was fascinating and then to discover any world I wanted could be made with those words was thrilling.
In 1991, I was 54 years old and a widow. Friends listened to my dream of being a writer and constantly said, “If you try hard enough, you’ll get there.”
Time was fleeting. I had to get cracking. With no clue of where I was headed, I decided my best bet was to write a small article about something no one else had done before and, hope of hopes, perhaps, just maybe, sell it to a newspaper. Wherever there was, I was going.
My subject became loyalty. Much had been written about a local restaurant, the great food and how, built in 1950, it was fashioned after the famous steakhouses of Chicago. The loyalty of its patrons, many of them regulars for over thirty years, had been largely ignored.
I was introduced to the office manager, who quickly made it clear I was after the wrong story. The real story was the restaurant’s founder, a man from Las Vegas with a dubious and mysterious past, surrounded by rumors of gangsters and molls. No one had ever looked into his life. I had a story!
Before interviewing his employees, friends, business partners, anyone and everyone who knew him, my skills needed to be sharpened.
Books on research, interviewing, writing, filled my bookshelves. I learned about the Freedom of Information Act and wrote to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If the rumors were true, the Bureau would have records on my subject.
It became apparent the small article was turning into a book. Friends listened to my worries, continued giving encouragement with, “Just keep at it. You’ll get there.”
Problem was, late at night, behind the blackness of closed eyes, I wondered, Where is there??? Was it having my book in a bookstore?? Was it seeing my name on the bestseller list?? How many books did I have to write before I was there?? Two?? Five?? A dozen?? Nobody knew.
Five years went by. Publishers weren’t interested in my manuscript. Rejection slips all said, in essence, “Sorry. Not for us.”
The last straw was an agent who wanted the manuscript. I sent it. Three months passed. I called. She was busy. Three more months passed. Her reader was sick. I started a new book. It kept me from going crazy.
My friends said, “Keep writing. You’ll get there. How was I going to get there if I still didn’t know where there was!
A year closed. The agent returned my story. Too local, she said. Wouldn’t sell nationally. I made a decision. If I was ever going to find out where there was, I had to go alone.
Books on self-publishing took their places in the bookcase. A year full of decisions ranging from line spacing to photo placements passed. A truck pulled up in front of my small townhouse and unloaded one thousand, one hundred copies of The Saga of Jack Durant by M. R. Leo. My friends and neighbors gathered and we toasted my first book. I lifted my glass skyward and said, Thank you.
The pile of twenty-some boxes has been replaced twice as orders for Durant’s story continue from around the country.
That first book has been joined by eight others in various genres which is against the rules. Authors are supposed to stick to one genre. Can’t do it. A story – fiction or non-fiction – comes my way, I write it.
Researching, writing, publishing all take massive amounts of time, effort, and, yes, money. My parents taught me to work hard and save the rewards of my labors. Never did I think I would spend so much of both on writing books. It was worth it.
I grabbed a tiger by the tail and hung on, finding not only a new career that I love but a new me.
I must be there.
Please visit me at my website for more details, www.mabelleo.com