Catherine West lives with her
husband and two teenagers on the
beautiful island of Bermuda. She enjoys an active church life, where
she is presently involved in Women's Ministry, as well as serving in
the community as a volunteer for Bermuda Riding for the Disabled.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is
represented by Rachelle Gardner of Wordserve Literary. Catherine writes
Contemporary Romance and Women's Fiction. She hopes not only to
entertain her readers, but also to share the good news of the gospel of
Jesus Christ through her books.
Islands, Isolation, and other Idiosyncrasies
“Are you really from Bermuda?” That’s usually the first thing I’m asked when I meet someone. Well, no, I just thought it would look good on my résumé…
The other popular question is, “Bermuda, where is that again? Near Georgia?” (Alaska, New York, Buenos Aries…) I have to avoid rolling my eyes at this.
I am actually from Bermuda, born and bred. I have the passport to prove it, and I can do a pretty mean Bermudian accent if bribed accordingly. As to Bermuda’s location, last time I checked we were sitting in the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately 800 miles as the crow or American Airlines flies, off the coast of North Carolina. If you don’t know where North Carolina is, you’re on your own, bubba.
My island home, the location of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, also known as The Isle of Devils, is both the bane and boon of my existence. Surrounded by pristine pink sand beaches, azure seas, and temperatures that rarely rise above 90 or drop below 60 degrees, Bermuda truly is “another world.” But for the aspiring writer, living in Paradise isn’t always idyllic.
When I first began writing, way back in the Dark Ages, the Internet hadn’t yet come into existence. I knew very little of the craft or the path to publication (I think AC/DC wrote a song about it). I just knew I loved to write stories. My friends told me they were good and…Well, okay. We’ve all been there. But I was encouraged.
I took some writing courses at our local college, which set me back a few years. I invested oodles of money in paper and ink cartridges and sent out pitiful offerings to unfortunate editors. I don’t think I knew what a critique group was. For that matter, I’m not sure I knew what a critique was or why I should get one. But then came the Internet.
After a brief glance at some writing sites, suppressing the urge to burn all my manuscripts and jump off the nearest cliff, I came to the conclusion that just because I’d been doing it all wrong for the last ten years, all was not lost. I’m a quick learner, I told myself. I’ll be published in no time flat.
Uh-huh. Well, that dream soon withered and died, along with all the houseplants and pets I’d been neglecting whilst bashing my
head against my new computer. And I’m pretty sure I used to have three children . . . Just kidding. No animals or children were harmed in the making of this author.
Not that I’ll admit to, anyway.
When you live on an island
that’s only twenty-four square miles, you want for things. Not
I’m pretty much on my own here. It’s probably more my fault than anybody’s because everything usually is, but I’ve never explored the idea of starting a writers’ group. Writing is a solitary profession, and I’m fine with that, really. I’m not what you’d call a people person. (Think Maxine, only better looking). But as the years dragged on and I plugged away, I did wonder if the only people who would ever read my work would be me, myself, and I.
As I explored what the Internet had to offer (to do with writing of course) and tried to learn what I could, I stumbled on to the site of American Christian Fiction Writers. By this point in my so-called career, or lack of one, I’d made the decision to write for the Christian market. I’d already joined another large writers’ group online, signed up for an online critique group, so this seemed like an added bonus.
Joining ACFW was without doubt the smartest thing I have ever done for myself. Over the past few years, I’ve been able to learn and grow as a writer. I’ve taken courses and flown off the island to attend conferences. I’m now an agented author who, God willing, will see my first book published in the near future.
When I eventually need to market my work, I’ll be able to make use of living on a tiny island. Local news is usually big news. Fortunately, we also have at least four flights a day that leave Bermuda for the U.S. and Canada. I will swim if I must, and with the way oil prices are going, I might have to. Don’t someone say, a little ingenuity goes a long way?
Living in an isolated area doesn’t have to dictate what you do with your life. Had I succumbed to my initial discouragement, I would have given up my dream of becoming a writer. I wouldn’t have any friends. And more important, I would have ignored the call God laid on my heart to write books for Him.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up.