Writing I’ll Become the Sea took me five years. I started it one summer, frustrated and totally depleted from another heartbreaking year of teaching. I was a public school teacher in Brooklyn and let me tell you, everything you hear about urban schools is true. And more. The fighting, the poverty, the illiteracy: some days it felt like trying to pull thirty students out of quicksand simultaneously. While they are all punching you in the face. I loved those kids, and so it was that much more painful.
I started the book as an escape, as a way to reclaim a sense of myself as my own person. I don’t read romance novels exclusively. But I have read them sporadically over the years – usually in bursts and with a great sigh of relief and pleasure. For me, they help a spinning world slow down. They help everything feel more straightforward and clear. They help me figure out what I want — which is no small thing for any woman, but for a caretaker type like me, it’s an especially big deal.
So I started it. And then school began again and I stopped. And then I had my first son and entered that magical yearlong trance of twenty-four hour breastfeeding, playgrounds and irrational weeping (often with joy; sometimes not). Then I started stealing an hour or two a week, in the early mornings, to write again. You can imagine how much progress I made like that. The next year I ramped it up to a luxurious four hours a week. And then I had my second son. Repeat the yearlong trance. And finally, I committed a full eight hours a week to writing. And I finished it.
I cannot describe how good it felt. This was the very first thing I ever attempted to write. It was certainly the very first totally self-centered thing I’d ever done. It wasn’t about teaching anyone, helping anyone or listening to anyone. It was about speaking what was in my own head and heart. I must admit I rather liked that.
But then I realized what I’d written: a romance novel with a totally unglamorous working-class heroine and a working-class hero who isn’t even introduced until several chapters in. It starts with a domestic violence scene and every now and then visits a prison. And it celebrates heavy metal. Also, it was too short and didn’t really fit into any romance sub-genre. So yeah. Good luck with that, Rebecca.
And then I stumbled upon Carina. Where no great story goes untold, eh? Well, I got one for ya, ladies! And lo and behold, they bought it. (I still kind of feel like I’m getting away with something.) Every last Carina staff person who worked with me on this book has been absolutely and consistently inspiring and lovely.
So here it is. I hope you enjoy it. And here’s one last fun fact before I hit the road: I wrote the beach scene first. And then rewrote it about sixteen thousand times. Why? You gotta get that first kiss RIGHT! (See the next blog post.)
Jane Elliot is a success story. A survivor of childhood abuse, she has dedicated her life to teaching. But something is missing. Teaching at an urban school and maintaining a relationship with her absentee fiancé, Ben, Jane can’t seem to feel much of anything at all. Then she meets David, a musician who runs an afterschool program for at-risk kids. Jane tries to deny her attraction to David and convince herself they are just good friends. But an accident, a death, a grim family obligation and her own intense desire force Jane to overcome the past, rethink the present — and take a risk on genuine love.