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First of all, happy new year to you! It’s 2021, and hopefully, it’s a better year than the one we shall not talk about. It’s been a while since I last blogged. For a while there, I guess the well ran dry. But 2021 is a new year and I’m back!

Where have I been the last year and a half? Writing, but obviously not on my blog. At the beginning of 2019 (March), I had the opportunity of a lifetime to take a year off work and focus on what I wanted to do, which was writing. Ever since I became a teacher, back in 2016, I’ve had less and less time to work on my novels or scripts, and I had this small voice in the back of my mind forever saying, “If only we had time, Eva. If only you had time to just focus and write.”

For a long while there, I prayed for ‘some time’.

They do say be careful what you wish for right? Well, let’s just say, certain events in my life in 2017 led me to make a resolution. Some day, I was going to take a whole year off ‘work’ and use that year to write. For me, that year happened to be from April 2019-April 2020. But then Covid happened, and as a casual teacher, that meant schools were closing, jobs were scarce so I took that as a sign to keep going, keep writing.

I was lucky in that sense that I got a whole year-and-a-half to work on my writing when I’d only been praying for ‘at least a year’.

So what did I achieve in my year and a half of WRITING?

BEFORE the fateful move from one state to another in early 2019 that afforded me the opportunity to write, I had been inspired by a student to join an online platform called Wattpad in 2018. I had never heard of this mysterious platform, and she had ignited a curiosity in me. Late November 2018, I bit the bullet and signed up, not yet sure I was going to put any of my works up.

After joining Wattpad, I ummed and ahhed for a good few weeks before deciding to post two of my old self-published books on the platform just for fun. It wasn’t like they were selling on Kindle anyway and I just wanted to see if I had the chops to attract some of Wattpad’s 80 million readers my way.

Then I WONDERED. I had a book I had stopped writing halfway, and never picked it up again. I had abandoned it because I doubted I had what it took to be a writer. That book was called, ‘for June’. The book that went onto win the ROMANCE WATTY in 2020. Announced live on YouTube, on the 4th December, Toronto time.

Long story short, I posted the ten or so chapters I had of ‘for June’ on Wattpad, and a few reads started trickling in soon after. The few reads gave me the push I needed, and come May/June 2019 I resumed writing the book from where I’d left off. I met some wonderful writers on the platform who were doing the same and we formed a group, to push each other to keep writing, to try and finish.

First draft of the book was completed by Jan/Feb 2020! I had done it. I had written my third book after years of thinking I no longer had the talent. Goes to show you, all you need is a push, a drive and a little daring to chase your dream.

Did I think I had a fantastic book? No. But I knew there was something about the story that I loved. I started editing it, rewriting it off the feedback and comments I got from readers and now writer-friends on Wattpad.

Somehow, whether you call it luck or coincidence, my story was picked up by Wattpad to feature on one of their homepage reading list late March 2020, a month or so after I had finished the first draft. Since then, my luck has changed drastically with this work. The featuring gave me much needed promotion on the site, and it brought new readers. It even got me an invitation into Wattpad’s Stars program. By April, I was a Wattpad Star. A badge had been given—I had something to offer.

I kept reworking and rewriting the book in the mean time.

Then something in me clicked in late July and I started to wonder if I had any chance at publishing. I started querying the book to a handful of agents. Man, was that scary. Sending the book out, or rather chapters and waiting to hear the no’s. There were lots of nos. Obviously. The book wasn’t ready yet.

So I continued working on it.

Then the Watty’s submission period started. I was tempted. I was so tempted. After all, I had nothing to lose. So I worked harder to polish it as best I could and updated the work on the platform. And on a whim, decided to enter it in the awards with no expectation whatsoever. I was damn certain I wasn’t going to be one of the lucky ones to win. NO WAY IN HELL. There were far too many expert romance writers on the platform. No way some odd-ball story of mine, a romance written from a male POV was going to make it.

Lo-and-behold, FOR JUNE won the coveted Watty Award on December 2020, on Wattpad. Among thousands of entries and hopefuls, my story, one I’d abandoned because I didn’t really think anyone wanted to read my stuff—won an award, in ROMANCE of all genre.

Watty Winner 2020- ROMANCE

For the life of him, Chad Gilligan, a celebrity romance author, cannot write any more romance. It started three months ago when he got dumped by ‘the one’. Cast aside. That day, his desire to write about love and romance died a fiery death.

Desperate to meet his deadline and deliver his next bestseller, Chad will try anything to get out of his rut. So when he meets June, a feisty young homeless woman (and potential muse), what else was he to do but bring her home?

[Read on Wattpad.]

HOW DID I GO FROM NEARLY QUITTING TO WINNING? My mind is still boggled by this fact. I have no idea how or when my luck changed, but it probably had to do with the fact that I made a decision, to go back to writing, and try my damndest to make it work. I’m still far from what I want, to be a published author. But I know I’m on the right path now.

My writing achievements in 2020 in a nutshell:

  • I wrote a story that ended up winning an award to my utter surprise.
  • I tried writing outside of my comfort zone and participated in an online, novella contest, resulting in me writing my first YA sci-fi novel. I’m hoping I’ll edit it this year.
  • Late 2020, back in November, I started my current WIP – a gutsy comedy, women’s fiction the last-year-me would be shocked by. I’m a third way through it and I’m hoping I can finish the first draft of it by June this year.
  • I wrote and rewrote my first feature film script this year, and am hoping to do one final rewrite (of which I’m half way). I’d like to have this ready by next month so that I may be able to get some feedback and see if it’s ready for competition.

2021 writing-related plan for me:

  • Do another rewrite of ‘for June’ and query it out to agents. I would love to land representation this year. That is goal number one!
  • Edit and polish the sci-fi as well as the comedy I’m writing. Have them ready to go out on query by end of 2021.
  • Continue with and finish my second feature film script, a historical adaptation by end of year and have it polished enough to go out on reads.
  • I may create an author website and move blog over. (I will update you on this as I go. Original plan was to create one soon and move over, leaving Papermashed behind with it’s few posts now. I’ve been busy deleting old post etc I no longer found relevant. But I start a temp job soon and may not manage the move-over until April.)
  • Get healthy.
  • Read more – scripts and novels.

These are all my goals for the year. I want to see how many of these I will tick off by end of 2021. Hopefully, I’ll tick off all! (That’d be ideal.)

How are you going with your writing? Have you set any personal/professional resolutions/goals for this year?

Till the next time. Stay safe, stay happy.