It’s an almost-Christmas miracle, everyone!
Actually, I’ve had the news for a while, but I was expecting someone important (my agent, my editor, my publishing house, God) to say, “JUST KIDDING, SUCKER!” That has not happened, yet, so I’m pretty sure this is real.
How it all happened is both a short and long story.
The short story: I wrote a novel, did major edits/overhauls a couple times, then sent it out into the world. I started with a list of agents who had rejected me before, but in a nice and supportive way. The first person on that list, Andrea, read the book and loved it. I signed a contract with her. She sent the book out into the world and I got a number of rejections. Twelve or thirteen, something like that. And then there were a few people interested, actually interested. Brenda was my favorite. She even talked to me on the phone. She saw great potential with the book and encouraged me to do a revision. A big revision. I was defeated at first–another revision? But then I felt grateful that she took a liking to me. I revised the story. It went back out into the world. In the end, I had two offers, but I chose Brenda.
The long story: I started writing stories when I was a little kid. I’d staple together pages and call them books. I don’t know where I got this drive. My parents are not creative people. I wrote my first book–a mess of a memoir–in college (I named it Into the Light). Then I wrote another book in college (Love and Leave). Neither of these ever went anywhere besides a couple writing workshops. I can’t remember exactly when, but I wrote another book (The Real Victor). Then I decided to go to grad school for writing. And I wrote another book Chasing the Crows). I got an agent with that book, but she couldn’t sell the book. I wrote another book (AWOL). I got an agent with that book too, but she couldn’t sell it. So I wrote another book (Cherry Blossoms), but never finished it. And then I decided to write another book, based on an idea I couldn’t get out of my head. That became People Who Knew Me. And now, if all goes according to plan, that book will get published.
The projected publication date is early 2016, which seems eons away. I’m thinking that in the next year, I’ll revisit some of my old books and see if they’re worthy of work. It’s all very exciting, I must say. And overwhelming.
It’s hard to express why this means so much to me. It’s not the money, because the money is small. I guess it’s the opportunity to share stories with people, to have some kind of conversation. There’s this sense that I have a path now, more of a purpose. After years of rejection, I considered so many times that I just sucked and should stop writing. That doubt is easier for me to fight now.
I just read this in the Editor’s Note of the latest Poets & Writers magazine and it’s so true:
“I believe that most of us write not for the money (‘What money?’ many will, and should, cry) but rather as part of a lifelong pursuit of creative expression. We write because we love writing; we can’t live without it. If we can get a book deal that includes some much-deserved stability, it’s a clear win, in a culture that doesn’t reward its literary artists as often as it should. But without that book deal, without that money, we will still write. And most of us–not all, but most of us–do not ‘write for the market’ (whatever that might actually mean).”
I still believe that getting a book deal is based less on talent than on luck and persistence. I mean, yes, you have to be a good writer. I’m a good writer. But you have to just keep trying, again and again and again. And again.