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How it all started.

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

Molly passed away in 2013, nine years after she came into my life. Her death was so sudden I didn't have a chance to properly say good bye, and it left me grief-stricken. In an effort to process my feelings, and worried I might forget them, I started to write them down, in the form of a letter to Molly. My plan was to create a document I could look back on in years to come and remember how much I loved her and what she meant to me.

As I wrote, I recalled silly stories and funny anecdotes. Molly was a surprisingly interesting cat and our life together was full of adventures. I have a terrible memory, so knowing how much I was likely to forget all of our escapades, I made a point of writing them down. The letter grew and grew, until I had to admit to myself that I was basically writing a book: her memoirs.

Soulcat Part 1, which is my letter to Molly, took me eight years to write. Not because it was that long, or because I'm a terrible writer (honest!), but because I didn't have a very disciplined approach to writing. I would spend a few weeks working on it in my spare time, but then I would forget about it for a few months, and so the thought of going back to it was daunting. I compiled a list of memories to include, which grew and grew as I recalled more stories from our time together. I had the content, I just needed the time and space to write it all out. I moved from notebook to Macbook, to make it easier to work on, but then it sat there, in a folder, gathering proverbial dust.

When I found the time to sit down and work on Soulcat, I felt compelled to go flick to the beginning and read back the story so far, to get my head in the zone. But instead of catching up with myself and continuing to write, I couldn't resist editing what I'd already typed out. So, every time I had some hours to spare to spend on it, having not looked at it for a few weeks, or months, I would work from the beginning, reading and editing, before adding a few hundred more words to the story. And then life would get in the way, and the process would repeat.

Finally, in 2018, I was inspired to crack on and get Soulcat finished. I'm terrible for starting projects and abandoning them mid-flow, leaving them to fester and end up forgotten about. But if there was one project in my life that I wanted to complete, it was this. So I got my head down, did the work, and finished the letter. It was 24,000 words long. In early 2019, I sent my completed manuscript to an editor. I figured if I was going to publish it, even just for friends to read, I should make sure it was the best it could be. The editor sent me back some great notes, and gave me an education on the oxford comma, amongst many other things. However, I was rather hoping she might also come back to me and say 'This is amazing, it needs to be published and out there in the world!'. But she didn't. She provided a lot of technical feedback, but when I mentioned looking for an agent and/or publisher, she suggested I would struggle.

Unperturbed, I send my manuscript out to a few agents, and got some very nice replies, but none of them wanted to publish Molly's story. So I put the whole project on the back-burner and decided to come back to it later. I didn't know what I was waiting for, I just knew I wasn't yet ready for the next stage, whatever that would be. In hindsight, I'm glad I hit the pause button, because the project has come on leaps and bounds since then. Check out my next blog post for what happened next!

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