Three years ago I fell in love. Not with a person, but with a thing. With writing. I discovered my passion when it slammed into me head-on as I was traveling in the wrong direction.
All my life I thought I wanted to work in fashion. I loved costumes, relentlessly played dress-up, and was obsessed with models and designers. That was the path I followed after college, heading back to design school, and ultimately landing a job as an assistant designer for a dress line. Though the job was not as glamorous in reality as it was in my dreams, it sent me all over the world from New York to China, and I had the pleasure of seeing my designs hanging in stores like Barneys and Anthropologie. Things were going great until the economy tanked, the line went under, and I was absorbed into a larger company during a merger and asked to start designing lingerie.
The processes and expectations at the new company were foreign to me and it didn’t take long to realize my design skills weren’t going to cut it. I was a square peg, I didn’t quite fit, and it was soon suggested I try something else, like starting the ecommerce website for In Bloom, the lingerie line. Building an online business from scratch was completely new to me and I tried to learn the ins and outs of SEO and PPC and Facebook fans, but again, I couldn’t quite meet expectations. The numbers weren’t good enough and I felt like I was failing. My self-worth was at an all time low and things got even worse when Google accused me of selling mail order brides and banned me from advertising.
I needed to find a new way to drive traffic to the website and save my job so I decided to try my hand at blogging. The problem was, I wasn’t an expert in lingerie, and I had no idea what to write about. In Bloom is predominantly a bridal lingerie line and I knew I wanted to use lots of wedding keywords, so my solution to my content problem was to write the blog as a fictional serial about a girl who worked for In Bloom and was engaged. The blog was to be her live wedding journal. As I started to write, though, I realized I couldn’t plan her wedding without knowing how she fell in love with the groom (who was this guy anyway?).
And it began.
Relying heavily on my personal experiences for inspiration, I started to tell Olivia Bloom’s story. My real life leading man, my husband Jason, was immersed in the Los Angeles music scene and in the years post college we’d had a backstage view as some of our friends’ bands went on to become world famous, while others, despite their success, couldn’t keep it together and broke up, and still others never got off the ground. Jason himself was the bass player in a band called The Remainers. I may have been biased, but I loved their music, and they were kind enough to let me use their lyrics for the fictional band Berkeley & the Brightside on the blog. With them on board, I realized telling this story was an opportunity not only to showcase In Bloom, but to spread the word about music I was a fan of; that it could be a catalyst to build up all of the creative people I was in awe of in my life. And I was surrounded by incredible talent—not just in music—but in art and design and film. I often felt out of place when I found myself in rooms with successful artists, paralyzed by shyness around all these people I admired, that I wanted to belong with. They always welcomed me with open arms, but I didn’t quite fit because they had something I didn’t have: they knew what their passion was. And I didn’t even know I was missing mine.
Until it blindsided me.
As I wrote, I put all of the emotion that stemmed from my own fears and dreams onto the page and the story took over. It started waking me up at all hours, demanding that I get it out. I was giddy, I was excited, and when I wasn’t in my fictional world I longed to be there. As Olivia Bloom was falling in love with Berkeley Dalton, I was falling in love with storytelling.
I posted two chapters a week to the blog for nine months and at the end I’d written a novel. Somewhere along the way to self-publishing it, some crazy magic swirled, and I ended up with an agent and a three book deal. That is a story for another day, but on February 10, 2014, more than three years after I first put pen to paper, I will be a published author. I still can’t quite believe it.
Writing novels is not a path I ever imagined I’d find myself on, but I think (hope!) I’ve finally found where I fit.
Katie Delahanty is a fashion designer turned novelist. She graduated with a BA in Communication Studies from UCLA and a Professional Designation in Fashion Design from FIDM. Her debut novel, IN BLOOM was recently published by Entangled Publishing. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Learn more by visiting her website, following her on Twitter @KTDelahanty or liking her Facebook page.
Learn more and order your copy of In Bloom here.