One snowy weekend in January, a friend and talented writer named Kelley Grealis came to New York for a writers conference. As Kelley and I began talking, her energy and smile gave away her passion and excitement for her first manuscript The Descendant.
During her visit, Kelley explained her journey to completing this project. As Kelley began the writing process, she remembered her fondness for writing fiction and poetry. Until this new beginning, Kelley had forgotten about a book she had started as a teenager but never completed. This memory had been buried along with her passion for writing for many years.
Even with all of her successes, Kelley did not feel satisfied with her life. She appreciated her job and all that it provided for her. However, Kelley believed she was missing something more from her life. She became bored with her daily routine. She felt like, “This can’t be it.” This caused her to experience what she called a “mini-midlife crisis.” She began searching and trying to figure out what more she wanted out of life.
One night during her “mini crisis “Kelley finished reading a popular vampire series and thought, “Why didn’t I think of this? The premise was so simple and staring at me right in the face. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of it myself.” She could not let it go. She talked to her husband, Denny. Kelley told him, “If other people can write a book, then so can I.” By the end of their conversation Kelley was prepared to write her version of a vampire story. The next day she began writing.
Kelley’s mother had introduced her to vampires at a young age. They watched a TV show called Dark Shadows together. Since then, Kelley has read many vampire books and watched many vampire movies. As she explained, “I was always put off that there was never a plausible explanation for how the vampire was created.” So that is what she decided to write about.
Along with Kelley’s interest in vampires, she had a second interest. She enjoyed reading about historical events. She knew the perfect fit for her story. Having attended Catholic Schools for thirteen years and church for many more than that, her idea was to link the origin of vampires to popular Biblical stories.
Kelley explained that she had stopped writing when she entered high school. At that same time, Kelley began working. Always a successful student and conscientious worker, Kelley put her efforts toward majoring in business. She wanted a “safe career path that would pay the bills.” While working in a variety of business positions, Kelley received her undergraduate degree in Accounting and obtained her CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Later while working full-time at one of the nations largest banks where she continues to work today, Kelley obtained a Masters of Business Administration.
Just six months after Kelley began writing, she completed the first version of her vampire story in December 2009. She queried agents and publishers and received a number of rejection letters. These letters only fueled Kelley’s determination. Now that she had a completed story, she wanted her manuscript to be published. From the rejection letters Kelley knew something was wrong. So as Kelley continued to work during the day, she enrolled in evening writing classes and writing clinics. She did many rewrites with the help of feedback from members of writing critique groups, family and friends. Eventually she hired an editor to polish the manuscript.
Kelley’s conviction and passion encouraged her January trip to New York. Getting to this point in her journey was an enormous accomplishment. Kelley did her research and came prepared to sell her work. It paid off. During the writer’s conference four out of seven agents asked her to send follow up materials to them. Since her trip she has sent out the additional material. Now, she must wait to hear back from them.
Kelley’s journey was a reminder of how at times our creative passion must be put on hold for different reasons. However, when the time arises the passion can easily be revived. Since the beginning of the project, Kelley has felt more fulfilled in life and her mini-crisis has disappeared. Kelley stated, “Writing is truly the one thing I look forward to professionally. My day job pays the bills, but my ‘second job’ provides a sense of satisfaction.” Kelley looks forward to seeing her book in print soon. You can learn more about Kelley's book on her Facebook page.
Kelley is an inspiration for others who had to put their creativeness on hold. She is a reminder that one day that creativeness can be embraced and pursued again.
**3/26/12 Update to this story**
Kelley Grealis has a new website: kelleygrealis.com