March 20, 2017, Portrait at home by Feng

March 20, 2017, Portrait at home by Feng

A lot of things can happen in life—mostly nothing.

I want a life full of experiences.

I don’t regret any of the decisions or mistakes I made. Good times, bad times, ups and down, everything is interesting. My life isn’t perfect, it’s never going to be perfect, but the adventure is damn fascinating.

But while I have no regrets, I have unfinished business—a folder on my desktop that bugs me.

Five years ago, I put the final full stop to a novel I wrote, a one-year project I had started because I had a good story outline and I wanted to see if I could actually write—and finish—a book. This was in another life where I had a good job with a great pay cheque I didn’t think I deserve, where I was taking yoga classes and where I had enough free time and brain space left at the end of the day to work on my little side project.

I loved the writing process. Over the months, I made notes, interviewed people, reached out to experts, did research, brought characters to life, pieced the story together, wrote a first draft, printed out the manuscript, edited it, proofed it and edited it again. Ta-da, final version.

Then we went travelling. “After this two-month break, I’ll read it again and I’ll try to reach out to publishers,” I thought.

In 2012, I was planning to take a “gap year” at home. I had quit my job before our trip and I had two projects: starting my own freelance business and exploring publishing options for the book. I was 29 and since turning 18, I had been busy travelling, studying and working—often all at the same time. I was finally confident enough, reasonably street smart and I had more than $200 in my checking account. I was nailing this whole life thing.

In February 2012, we returned to Canada tan, rested and energized.

I also came back nauseous. A month later, I realized I was pregnant.

My “bohemian year” turned out to be the most emotionally and physically draining year of my life. I no longer had the opportunity to be self-centred for a few months. First, I rushed to France when my mom underwent a major surgery, then stayed a few weeks as she was recovering. As my belly grew bigger, the book project was definitely replaced by the baby-baking project—instead of brainstorming titles, I was listing baby names. I did manage to start the freelance business because I needed to—I wouldn’t be eligible for mat leave since I was now self-employed—but I never opened the book folder on my desktop again.

Then came Mark, and the follow-up project was obvious: learning our roles as new parents, no how-to manual provided. I kept on writing to stay sane and I shared our adventures on this blog but I every time I opened the book, the words I had typed a year earlier sounded empty. I wasn’t that person anymore. I had no idea who I was, anyway. In my new life, socializing, sleeping and eating were pointless activities and I would have deleted every single copy of the book if I had had enough energy to plug my hard drive in (luckily, I didn’t).

Last year, I finally found the time and courage to double click on the folder. I read the book and suddenly, things made sense. It was my work, these were my characters, this was my kind of humour.

“Damn… I like this book,” I thought.

I got to work, edited some parts, improved the work and…

… and nothing. I don’t know what to do with this book. It’s not a draft, it’s final. I let it rest long enough.

Now what?

I’m stuck.

I’m very superstitious. I never mention my projects unless the work is completed and some kind of result was achieved. For once, I’m making an exception. I’m not looking for support, I’m trying to motivate myself because I don’t want to ever regret not pursuing this project.

I’m 34 and I have unfinished business to tackle. This year, I want to give this project a chance.

March 20, 2017, Portrait at home by Feng

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I literally don't have the time to write ten stories a day.

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  1. Lexie March 21, 2017 at 8:13 am

    I have to read this store, I have to, I’ve been dreaming about it when sleeping. You have no choice but to publish it, I’ll be one of your very first readers

    1. Zhu March 21, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      Aw, that’s nice. Eh, if one day I can send copies… you’ll get one 😉 (et un baby-sitting? 😉

  2. Lexie March 21, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Et bonne fete! Comme on dit au Qc

  3. Isa March 21, 2017 at 8:30 am

    YAY!!! It’s so hard to finally let people read our very own books, so personnal, that we both hated and loved and then hated some more and then loved… But this book is a part of you! I hope you decide to let the world know about what’s inside. It’s so exciting!!!


    1. Zhu March 21, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      I don’t actually mind letting anyone reading it, I just think it’s a tedious task (you can’t “force” anyone to read) and it’s probably unfair to ask for feedback from people I know. Maybe I’m weird.

  4. Frenchie au Canada March 21, 2017 at 11:38 am

    Happy birthday! And congratulations on finishing the book! It’s actually a dream of mine but I struggle to find the story :/
    I would love to read it if you want an outsider’s perspective?

    1. Zhu March 21, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      I’m not sure I’ll let anyone I know read it at this stage, mostly because of potentially awkward situation (i.e. me expecting feedback, pressure on you, etc.) Maybe I’m weird. I feel it’s an unfair favour to ask, read a manuscript…

      1. Frenchie au Canada March 22, 2017 at 10:50 am

        It’s up to you, but as you know I appreciated your feedback on some situations in my life so I would be happy to return the favor. I LOVE reading and writing about reading and miss writing dissertations haha so it honestly would be something I would enjoy. And I trust that you wouldn’t hold any honest feedback against me?
        Anyway, the option is there 🙂

        1. Zhu March 22, 2017 at 10:57 pm

          I don’t think I did you a favour, I was initially curious and you open to me and I appreciate that 🙂 It wasn’t a chore, it’s just… chatting!

          Anyway, I appreciate the offer. I’m thinking about my options right now. Argh. Not sure what’s next… and now I actually have to do something like I promised!

  5. Bianca March 21, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    Happy Birthday dear Juliette!!

    I’ve been reading your blog for years now and have always said writing is your true talent.. 🙂
    You have a way with words that intrigues me to keep on reading whatever you write about. I am so happy you have decided to pursue this goal you have and I truly hope you publish your book soon, best of luck!!

    1. Zhu March 21, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      This is very sweet from you! I’m going to go back read your kind words whenever I start doubting 😉

  6. Bee Ean March 21, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Happy birthday, and hope to read your book one day.

    1. Zhu March 21, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you!

  7. I Say Oui March 21, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Happy Birthday!!! Hope it was a good day and that everyone was nice to you.

    Wow, some people take years and years to write a book and don’t get to the stage you’re at. Though the next step is daunting, that’s big that you feel your book is in good shape and complete. I suppose now you’ll be doing research on finding an agent and how to present your work. Keep us posted!

    1. Zhu March 22, 2017 at 12:22 am

      Thank you! Everyone was super nice. I got a cool gift and Mark baked a cake 😉

  8. kiky March 21, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Selamat Ulang Tahun! I’ll be the first in to Pre-order your book! (because it will take a while before your book arrived or even published in my country) 😉

    1. Zhu March 22, 2017 at 12:22 am

      Aaaw, that’s sweet! Not at this stage yet, but hey… I should dream!

  9. Martin Penwald March 22, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Yeah! Zhu++

    Do you still think to fine an editor or self publish it?

    1. Martin Penwald March 22, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Find, fucking auto correct.

    2. Zhu March 22, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      I really don’t want to go the self-publishing route for several reasons (good or bad, but that’s not for me). So yes, I have to reach out to… someone, somewhere!

  10. Gagan March 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Bon Anniversaire! 🙂

    You wrote a novel! That is an achievement Juliette 🙂 I would definetly love to know more about your book

    1. Zhu March 23, 2017 at 10:17 pm

      Thank you! I’ll probably share me about the “reaching out process” in the weeks to come.

  11. Lynn March 30, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    This is fantastic news! Good luck with the queries and good for you just for finishing the project and putting it out there. And happy birthday!

    1. Zhu March 30, 2017 at 11:13 pm

      Well… thank you for everything! 🙂

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