I spent seven and a half years on Rejection Island, as Jody Feldman so aptly put it in her post. And as those seven and a half years progressed, I found myself thinking that if I could sell one book—if I could just get my toe in the door—everything would be okay. I just needed that one yes. I saw that first acceptance, in many ways, as the end of struggle.
Once I entered the publishing world, though, I instantly found myself faced with a hundred new hurdles to climb: I needed a website and a web presence. (I had never even so much as commented on a blog—now I needed to have one of my own? Since I’d graduated high school in the pre-Internet days, and had attended college during the days when we all took class notes by hand and stood in line at a computer lab in-between classes, putting myself online seemed odd and, quite frankly, a bit scary.) I needed to edit my acquired book without killing what the publishing house loved in the first place. I was navigating new publicity waters (print ads, announcements, etc.) as I struggled to find my audience (and learning, too, that giveaways are not just something for people in a band…)
In short, only one struggle ended when I inked the first deal: the struggle to get that first elusive yes. After inking the contract, I quickly learned that a writer’s life is one mountain followed by another: the struggle to find an audience becomes the struggle to grow an audience, then turns into the struggle to maintain your current audience as you shift genres. The struggle to edit acquired work ends just as you find yourself faced with the task of coming up with a scenario for a new book that your current fans will connect with while appealing to a whole new group of readers.
And so on…
The thing is, though, I didn’t start writing because it’d be easy. I didn’t pursue writing because I had the intense desire to sit around all day, feet up, binging on bonbons. I did it because I’m a literature junkie, and have been ever since those days when my grocery store trips involved riding inside the cart and getting a new Little Golden Book before heading for home.
I did it because I love the work. And work, in short, helps me deal with absolutely anything. If I’m filled with the nervous energy of waiting for an editor to respond to a new manuscript or waiting for the first reviews to come in for a soon-to-release book, I dive headfirst into a new project. I take the plunge, whipping up outlines and drafting new chapters and feeling the joy of falling in love with new characters, new situations, all over again.
And when you’re falling in love, worries and struggle don’t seem so big, after all…