|I did ... what? WHAT? Are you sure? I might vomit. In a good way. No, seriously.|
|Yes. That's right. I've joined the Inner Sanctum. I have my crap TO-GE-THER. I'm kind of a big deal.|
It's been a strange thing, having people say things like Don't forget the little people or Now that you're a rock star. Those statements make me sad. There aren't any little people. And if there are rock stars in the publishing industry, it isn't the girl who got nothing but solid rejections for two years after signing with her agent and then finally wrote a book that sold.
I don't say that to put myself down. I say that because it's true. I wrote a book that garnered me my amazing agent. And it didn't sell. It went on submission a second time. And didn't sell. So, I sat down to write another. And guess what? That didn't sell either. I revised it and went out again. Still nothing. I can't tell you how many times I wondered when my agent would call and tell me we'd taken a good run at it, but it just wasn't working, and it was time to part ways. (She NEVER gave me that impression. I created those personal demons all by myself.) I can't tell you how many times I saw others sell just weeks after signing with an agent and offered them public congratulations even while inside something sharp sliced into me and whispered things like You'll never sell and What does everyone else have that you don't? and Why don't you just give up?
It wasn't that I couldn't be happy for others. I was. How could I not celebrate when I knew how hard the journey could be? It was that I felt like I was missing something crucial. Overlooking some important ingredient that would transform me from the girl who couldn't sell a book to one who finally had a contract.
Guess what? There IS a secret ingredient. It's called sweat. Perseverance. Sheer undiluted stubbornness. I might lack a lot of other qualities, but I've got stubborn down to a science.
You know what other secret ingredient is required? Guts. Nothing I was doing was working. It was always just shy of what publishers wanted. Two years after I'd signed with Holly, I still hadn't sold, and I figured I had a choice. I could quit. I could keep writing stuff no one seemed to want. Or, I could dare to try the project that had been lurking in the back of my brain, taunting me with it's awesomeness and with how HARD it was going to be. How much it would stretch me craft-wise. How much it would ask of me emotionally.
I'm no quitter.
And I wasn't interested in writing yet another adult genre book that might not sell.
So, I looked the scary, possibly-too-big-for-me project in the eye and said Bring it.
Two weeks after I turned it in to my agent, it sold in a three book deal at auction to Balzer & Bray. Someone who didn't know I'd just spent two years as the girl who couldn't sell a book to save her life read that announcement and said you're a rock star. Someone else who'd been with me for a little part of the journey, but had never traveled the depths of despair I sometimes felt in my heart, said don't forget the little people. Others who'd never given me the time of day suddenly sat up and paid attention.
But here's the thing. I'm still the same person I was the day before I sold my book. I still snort inappropriate things through my nose on accident. Usually in public. I still have to sit down some days and chisel my word count from my brain with a pick axe because my brain has decided to move to Jamaica and call it quits. I'm a mom. A wife. A friend. A writer who knows with exquisite clarity what it feels like to be on the outside looking in and what it takes to keep going, against any obstacle, until one day you finally see your dream come true.
I'm thrilled to have sold my book. My life has changed because of it. But I haven't. There are no little people. There are only different places along the path. If I ever do "forget the little people" I will have lost a piece of my integrity that is worth more to me than any publishing contract ever could be. I'm not a rock star. I'm stubborn, and it paid off. Finally.
Please don't look at the good news in my life (or in other's) and devalue your own talent, your chances, or your experiences. There are no inner sanctums out of your reach. There isn't a finite number of contracts. You aren't one step closer to missing your chance. If you want to take anything away from my own experience, take this: I'm just a girl who kept writing.