I blogged recently about my first sale experience at Dear Reader. The piece can be summed up by saying: lightning struck and I was grateful and really surprised.
Since that moment, my writing career has been a thrill ride along a steep learning curve. There have been spills and moping, but happy dances, too.
Jessa’s right when she observes that success is accompanied by a lot of hard work. One also needs a solid support network, professionally and personally. Omit luck, sweat, or support, and the going gets very tough indeed.
But what am I saying? Any author can write a piece that reads like a cautionary tale. I’d like to catalogue some of the nifty things I’ve done since getting published:
• Used the phrase, “Excuse me, I’ve got my agent on the line.”
• Spent time wondering about the logistics of sex with werewolves—legitimately.
• Had a great excuse for littering my living room with little plastic gravestones. Dioramas! Have to plot those battle scenes …
• Actually found a use for an English degree after 50,000 people sneered and said, “Why don’t you study something useful?”
• Had the money to pay the vet when it was absolutely needed.
Those were all good moments. It’s nice to have concrete reminders of what’s been achieved, because it’s easy to lose sight of all that water under the bridge.
On the other hand, those moments aren’t everything. Success is only as good as what’s going on between an author and her work in progress. Reviews, promotion, conferences, contests, and the like will orbit her writing life, but the gravitational pull is always the battle with the blank page. That does not change.
I can understand why some authors get a few books into their career and decide it’s not for them. I think it takes a certain personality to face the fact that the hard part never stops. But then, there are moments when the story just works, and I fall in love with it all over again.
That’s when a person knows that they’re doing the right thing – when “success” is really an excuse to support their writing habit. I must write, the same way musicians must play, or true gardeners aren’t happy unless there is dirt beneath their nails. The same way real readers won’t be caught without a book somewhere on their person. You just gotta do it.
Readers: what’s the oddest place you’ve taken a book?