Friday, September 28, 2012

A World of Never-Ending Sunshine

What surprised me about being an author?

That achieving this hithertofore lifelong goal didn't abruptly transform the world into one filled with glitter and never-ending sunshine.

I cannot tell you what was going through my head prior to getting picked up for publication. But honestly? Having to bottle the euphoria of the "publisher wants to offer you a contract" phone call in order to do the dishes or scoop the catboxes? I wasn't prepared. And it's inadvisable to keep grinning like an idiot when you're scooping catboxes, no matter how elated you may be. People call the men in white coats for you when they see behavior like that.

I freely admit that I'd hoped my books would sell better - MUCH better - than they did. Don't we all? Sure. Tell me all about how you kept your head out of the clouds and your feet on the ground about it. Weren't you just practicing your Oscar acceptance speech in front of the mirror a moment ago? Yeah, don't forget to thank your editor/agent/grandparents on both sides/and the dog.

Okay. Enough joking around. My surprises as an author have been legion.

  • I'm surprised I finally got a story right - not just that it was right enough to be published - It felt right and rang true to me.
  • I was surprised that anyone else anywhere liked it.
  • I was surprised at how very hard the second book was to write. This was entirely the weight of my own impossible expectations. Those were a surprise, too.
  • It was a disheartening surprise to find out that I didn't get to continue my journey with the same people who'd started me on the path. But this is one twisted business with very few real, measurable metrics for 'business goals achieved' versus 'a vote of no confidence from your board of directors'. Your best measure is your own gut instinct. Sometimes people and situations change. When you feel someone no longer has your best interests at heart, it's time to release that relationship so both parties can move on to bigger and better things - even, SURPRISE, when at the time all you see is a wasteland surrounding you. Yes. The wasteland was also a surprise. (Note that you can plant and water a wasteland and create any kind of landscape you want - herein you find the admonition to get back to work - because it is only through working that you'll grow anything new.)

But the single biggest, nicest surprise has been the number of readers and fellow authors who have become and remained my friends. The support and the advice (which may have included suggestions on where to hide dead bodies - but I'm not saying whose!) has made me as happy as if I'd just typed 'The End' on another manuscript that felt 100% right. Making this, the time to get back at that WIP. Last surprise - I thought I only had one book. Thank the Gods I was wrong. That's the best kind of surprise.

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