AUTHOR JOURNEY: Michelle Weitering
As a teenager I fell in love with the private world of journaling. A space where I could express how I felt about the world around me, the people in it and how it all affected me daily. What better place for a teenager to vent so freely, than a secret diary tucked away where no one could find it? And sure, maybe some days I didn’t have a whole lot to say that was interesting, but it was all so cathartic and liberating for the younger me to secretly confess what I was really thinking. My diary was my dear friend, my confidante, my memory keeper. I poured all of my thoughts into Dear Diary; thoughts of my stepfather making me dig up potatoes all weekend, only to make me sit at his desk for three hours every night to study. Thoughts of my twin, who thought it would be a fabulously funny idea, an hour before the bus ride to school, to walk by me one morning as I was cleaning out my ear, and slam her hand against the cotton bud, sending it to scream ‘Hello’, against my ear drum. Ouch!
Oh, I’m sorry: did I say ‘private world of journaling’ and ‘secret diary?’ It comes as no surprise that my twin became a private investigator later in life; as a youngster she sniffed out every hiding place I thought I’d hidden my journals in. She cleverly went on to use the intel in the most embarrassing of ways!
It’s kind of funny now, looking back, how freely I poured my worries of the world onto the page; I cringe at some of the entries and yet I can’t stop laughing at the same time. Hundreds of pages held my most coveted secrets, dreams, confessions and wishes, and all of life’s escapades. How wonderful to write down all those feelings without fear of judgment or punishment. Everything was always clearer once I’d written down all the blahs of life, too; the highs and the lows and everything in between that not only helped me make sense of my world, but helped me to discover ‘me.’ I’ve always been a lover of letter writing, too, and would write to my girlfriend in Mildura in the style of Jane Austin, imagining myself weaving the Regency Era dialogue of 1811-1820 into the 21st Century. She told me that my letters were so entertaining, that I should be a writer. An avid reader like my mother, I was also never without a book. You would find me engrossed in novels the likes of Jane Austin, Tami Hoag, Nora Roberts, Susan Brown, Maeve Binchy, Christine Feehan, Celia Dart-Thorton, Lavyrle Spencer and Julie Garwood. Oh, how I loved to escape into their worlds! But I also thought there was no way on this green earth, that I could ever be anywhere near as entertaining as those magicians in their worlds of words.
I stopped journaling when I left home at eighteen and began the search for myself in the grown-up world of employment and life’s adventures. I fell for the love of my life and became pregnant six years later. Ten years after I had stopped journaling, I picked up the pen and began writing to my unborn baby. Two beautiful boys later, I continued downloading my thoughts on motherhood and the mysterious evolution of parenting. It finally got me to thinking: why couldn’t I write? Why could I not weave some fascinating tale and entertain readers, whisk them away from their own worlds, a few chapters at a time? To be honest, when I look back at my life I cannot think of a time when I wasn’t writing. I used to write stories all the time as a kid for my cousins and friends. The dedicated Grade Five teacher at Woolsthorpe Primary School bound my first book, a funny little horror story titled, Bazz the Dog; it was a brilliant, slightly deranged story of a dog, a girl, a bat, rabies, vampires and zombies. Then my little imagination set fire to another book; this one I called Pet Lamb—and yes, that one was as riveting as the title sounds.
Even the younger me was capable of being entertaining, and my imagination never failed
me; so the week after I turned forty, when my cherubs were tucked in tight for the night, I finally embarked on my first novel, The Given. I couldn’t stop writing once I had started, and I also realised I couldn’t keep anything short if my life depended on it—so within three months The Given grew into a trilogy to include Dark Angel and The Guardian. It was a dark, psychological romance that passed the critique of a dear friend who was a serious reader of all genres, and she confirmed that I was on the right track. According to her, I was indeed a most capable storyteller and it occurred to me that maybe one day I might indeed hold my story in my hands as a published book.
With great support from my husband and mother I found a publishing firm despite not having a single clue about the publishing world. I plunged headfirst into the murky waters of publishing, using excitement as my constant floaties to keep me from sinking. It was not a fabulous experience the first-time round, though I was quickly learning the do’s and don’t’s of publishing a book. When I was three quarters of the way through The Guardian, the third book in the trilogy, my small family of four was hit by a tidal wave that knocked us sideways and wiped us out. Our tidal wave had a name, too: Anxiety. As the months went by and I continued writing The Guardian, it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. How could I call myself a writer if I didn’t write about the most important topics, like the affect anxiety had on my small boy, and in turn, family, friends and teachers? So, I put The Guardian aside.
Could I possibly be brave enough to expose how uninformed I had been when anxiety first crept into our lives? How unenlightened and unprepared I was as a parent? That I had no idea how to help my baby thrive and navigate his world through the horrid lens of anxiety. Could I share all my naked vulnerability? Yes, of course I could—and I was willing to take the risk if it meant I could help another parent or carer not to feel as alone as I had first felt when anxiety hit. Isolated, lost. If I could prevent just one family from finding themselves in such a foreign world of despair, then I could easily expose my own roller coaster journey with anxiety. And so, the five-year journey of Thirteen and Underwater was born and is to this day my proudest piece of work. It’s enabled me to work alongside Headspace Australia and raise funds for their ongoing campaigns, to assist in the continued support of our youth, and donate books far and wide to Ireland’s Inspire, in an effort to help raise awareness about mental health.
I knew Thirteen and Underwater had to birth with a publisher who was not only successful in her own right, but dedicated to the entire journey of authors and their books. A publisher who was modern enough to enable me to contribute to the direction of my authorship, not just to grow, but to thrive. A modern, savvy publisher with all the benefits of a traditional publisher. My research led me to MMH Press and I knew from the get-go that this was my publishing journey. I still have to pinch myself some days with all of the opportunities I have had since signing with the fabulously talented Karen Mc Dermott of MMH Press, who goes above and beyond in every capacity for her authors. I’m forever grateful to her.
Could you imagine being with a publisher who wants your book to fly and be embraced by the world as much as you do? If so, look no further my fellow writers and welcome home. If you are a lover of amazing, soul filled reads, you have come to the right place. I so look forward to supporting all of our writers at MMH Press, as much as I have been supported. It’s true what they say, you know; the future’s so bright, we’ll have to wear shade’s! xx