Last week, I finally received edits from my publisher. The first stage, which happened earlier this fall, involved major revisions/rewrites. The editor made suggestions on where to trim the text and where to expand. Right now, the focus is on the technical part of editing, such as word use, the differences between Canadian and American spelling, and the like. The next stage will involve proofreading and cover design. All of this is, of course, exciting. For the past years, I’ve always tried carving out snippets of time for writing between freelance projects, toddler naps, and housework. As much as I’m committed to writing, it’s always felt secondary to other commitments. Now I get to treat it as a real job since I have deadlines to meet.
The plot revolves around the life of a young, happily married woman who travels to Israel to volunteer for an archaeological dig, meets new people, and discovers that her truest passion lies in the world of academic research. There are some major plot twists, including introduction of military conflict half through the story and the relocation of the archaeological team into another town. The story takes place in various parts of Israel, including the fictional town of Kiryat Adar located in the south, several sites in Galilee, and a research center in Jerusalem. The novel is filled with colorful descriptions of different historical sites, tourist attractions, and national parks. Ultimately, it’s a story of self-discovery and personal growth.
I began writing the novel shortly after graduating from university. However, the full-time job and other commitments would always get in the way. I would start from the beginning, get to a certain point, and then give up. A few months later, I would start all over again. This pattern continued for about two years. In other words, I had the idea in my mind, but I couldn’t make the story progress.
Then, in the summer of 2014, the conflict between Israel and Hamas flared up, shaking up several towns in southern Israel and Gaza. As a result, several archaeological expeditions were completely changed in a matter of days. Half through the excavation season, the teams in Ashkelon and Jaffa were forced to interrupt their projects and move volunteers and staff into safer areas. Some volunteers and staff joined the excavation team in Megiddo, while others went to Jerusalem to work with artifacts at the Albright Institute.
I remember standing in the kitchen, wondering if I should finally call it quits with writing, when the idea hit me. Why not make the political conflict part of the story? I thought. I could turn the dig interruption into a major plot twist. And suddenly, my writing began flowing naturally. I was no longer working at my regular job, so I had extra time on hand. I finished the first draft in a matter of weeks.
It took me another four years to get the novel into its current shape. During that period, I worked with three different editors, revised chunks of the manuscript, submitted it to different publishers, attempted self-publishing (a topic for another post), revised and rewrote some more, and finally landed a publishing deal with BHC Press. It was a long haul, definitely worth it!