Once upon a time…
The year was 1986. I was a sophomore in high school. There was a TV mini-series entitled North and South that I religiously followed. It was based on a trilogy of novels written by author John Jakes. I liked the mini-series so much that I “attempted” to write my own version of North and South (which I entitled, uhm, North and South…)
Using my dad’s typewriter, I would spend my nights typing away on blue typewriting paper (don’t ask why it’s blue… it just was blue!). My version was a love story. It was about an heiress named Elizabeth who fell in love with stable boy Joseph. Okay, I am cringing now…
But hey, I think I was only 14 years old then — so what did I know about love stories?!
Only one friend of mine ever read that story. Every time I would finish a “Chapter,” I would pass it on to her… and she would beg me to write some more. She was my best fan and worst critic. Well, she was my sole reader, so what did I expect. But she gave me the first push. She gave me reason to believe that my writing was good enough.
I don’t think I got past 5 chapters, though. I think I ran out of ideas… and most likely I got busy being a teenager that I forgot about the story altogether. But one thing remained, though. I knew then that I loved writing and I loved telling stories.
I also knew that I would want to write – and publish – a book someday. A love story… Maybe a sappy one like my North and South… 🙂
It was a dream. It was a girly goal.
Dreams don’t really die… some are just forgotten. But they are still there with you, inside you.
When the right time comes and you realize that you still want to go after a long-forgotten dream, even the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.
2014. I received handwritten letters from my best friend/cousin from the US.
For some reason, these gave me a storyline to start with and work on.
I told myself I was ready to take on the challenge. Told myself I would write that love story I have long been wishing/dreaming to write.
And so the journey began…
So, what do writers need when they are to create a masterpiece? Of course I armed myself with the “tools.”
My laptop came very handy especially since I preferred to ‘work’ at my office space outside my home…
And surely, I needed my energy drink…
I was ready. I was excited. I was writing my first book! I wrote several chapters. I almost felt like a real writer.
And then I hit a blank. I didn’t know where the story was going. It didn’t help, too, that my laptop kind of crashed.
Angels all around us.
2015. After shelving the project for about a year, I saw the saved drafts of the first several chapters that I wrote… and I found myself smiling while reading. I felt bad for not finishing the story.
I emailed the finished chapters to my best friend/cousin in the US for her birthday last July.
All she said was — Finish it. Finish the story. Just keep writing.
That gave me the drive to continue. At least I knew I had one loyal reader.
And so I started writing again. But since my laptop crashed, I had to contend with good old pen and paper this time around. So much for being hi-tech.
When I hit another moment of anxiety and insecurity — when I started asking myself what the point was in all these, and I was starting to tell myself that I don’t write well enough and surely I don’t think I can actually finish writing a book — another angel intervened…
She read the first part of the draft and demanded that I share with her the rest.
She also pretty much told me to stop being a drama queen and just continue what I have started.
Real friends push you when you are just too tired, scared and unsure of yourself. They will not give up on you even when you are ready to give up on yourself.
I continued with my project and finished the manuscript late September of last year.
A manuscript is not a book until it is printed and published. At least to me, it’s not. Since it was truly just a personal project, I decided to explore the self-publishing option. I researched and inquired…
And then I met this super cool guy (a writer and an artist) who answered all my two hundred questions about self-publishing and who was more than willing to work with me in making a book. He eventually became my book coordinator, my proofreader and editor, as well as my lay out artist. He was my best friend for several months. It didn’t hurt as bad when he edited away (which translates to him chopping off some parts, fixing some lines, etc. etc). The editing took time, we added and changed stuff here and there, yet he was very patient all throughout. I was truly flattered when he said he really liked my work (despite it being chick lit).
God then sent another angel my way in the form of a really talented artist. I found samples of her work online and they were truly divine! I reached out to ask if she would be ever so nice to design a book cover from me… and she agreed!! I was overjoyed.
I cannot thank these two artists enough. Though I was a total stranger, they entertained my queries — and helped me create something.
When the time is right, God leads us to the right people… or He leads the right people to us.
And so, after two years of creating… and about thirty years of dreaming, here it is…
Because it doesn’t hurt to read a sappy love story every once in a while. ❤
Available this July at Central Books in SM Megamall, Central Books Lyceum Makati and Central Books Cebu. Also available soon at their online bookstore: http://www.central.com.ph.
Limited copies only 🙂
Twenty Years in Between… the Love Story of Lizzie and Joseph; copyright 2016 Betsy Gacutan- Ochosa.
Work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Heartfelt thanks to Clarissa Ines for the cover design and Adam David for the edits & layout.
“Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.” Prov. 16:3
photo of North and South via google images; all other photos are the author’s.