Back in 2009, I thought I was about to hit the big time.
I’d written a book, you see. A novel, actually. A YOUNG ADULT novel. Because dang it, if Stephenie Meyer could do it, I could do it, too. And with the optimistic encouragement of my then-agent, who truly felt that my book would sell quickly and easily, I set off for a family vacation in the mountains feeling kind of like this:
OBVIOUSLY, my book was going to sell while we were in the mountains, and OBVIOUSLY, it would sell to the highest bidder at auction, and OBVIOUSLY, I was a hugely superior author and would soon be rolling in piles of royalty cash, etc. etc.
The first day passed with nary a word from my agent.
Then the second, and then the third.
On our way back to Birmingham, I remember smiling and participating in conversation while feeling quietly stunned and not a little offended.
(I also remember making my mom pull over so I could throw up on the side of the mountain because HOLLA CAR SICKNESS, THANKS MOUNTAINS FOR BEING RIDICULOUSLY SWIRLY.)
How was it possible that my book had been on submission for THREE WHOLE DAYS without getting snapped up for a six-figure advance? Something had clearly gone very, very wrong.
It would take me months to come to terms with the fact that I was not quite as superior as I had thought.
Over the course of the next year and a half, as my agent and I went on round after round of submission, revising after every flood of rejections, and hoping that this time, somebody would bite, I began to realize something.
Are you ready for this?
WRITING BOOKS IS HARD.
Like, it is so much harder than I ever thought it could be. There is SO much to learn. There is SUCH thick skin to develop. And there is SO much pride to push aside in the name of learning more, being better, picking yourself up yet again.
I didn’t know any of that back in 2009.
But now, as I sit here and look at the mere five months between today and the release date of my second YA novel, I know.
I know what it takes. And I know I’ve yet to arrive there. Am I better than I was six years ago? Oh, heavens yes. But in this case, I think “better” means something different than we assume.
“Better” means I know how I write, how I plan, how I revise. I know myself. I know to give myself room in the schedule, but I also know it’s vital to make myself a schedule.
“Better” means I know that when I reach the point of thinking, “There, that’s as good as it can get,” it can actually get at least 25,000% better with the help of beta readers, my agent, and professional editors.
“Better” means I know that if I want to be an author, I can be one, come jobs or babies or moving or whatever. The only thing that can ever stop me, is me.
It’s a weird place, this little spot I’m in, where I’m looking back at my first book and looking ahead at my second. What totally different experiences they have been. How much I’ve learned. How much I have yet to learn.
There are probably a lot more challenges in my author path, but now, for the first time since I ever sat down and wrote the most abysmal first draft ever in the history of first drafts back in 2008, I feel like I am ready for them.
I have been working on a semi-secret project for a few months now; maybe I’ll be able to talk more about it soon. And in October, once my pregnancy nausea is gone for good and I’ve regained some of my energy, I will begin to write YA again.
I can’t wait.