Personal Narrative: The Leaving Year

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I’m a former journalist and public-relations professional who always wanted to write novels. So, about four years ago, while the country was still in recession, I took a deep breath and quit my day job. (I have to thank my husband, Mark Funk, for making that possible.) The decision to finally pursue my childhood dream was a complete leap of faith. I flailed around a lot, writing and rewriting the first paragraph of my novel 327 times (that’s just a guess) before I realized I’d never reach the end if I couldn’t get past the beginning. While alternately questioning my sanity and imagining best-sellerdom, I forced myself to finish what Anne Lamott calls the shitty first draft. It took me more than three years and several more drafts before I had something I’d let anyone outside of the family read.

I didn’t set out to write a young-adult novel, but that’s what The Leaving Year became. My protagonist is a 15-year-old girl who searches for the truth about her father, who may or may not have drowned in a fishing accident. It’s set in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. during the late 60s.

Before writing the novel, I wrote short stories off and on while working
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Amarillo Bay took that one, too. My submission strategy, if I have one, is to focus on online journals that encourage emerging writers. I always read stories in the journals before I submit to them. If I see a story that’s similar to mine, I’ll send there. If not, I

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