Nothing Like The First...

By Charlotte Bennardo

One of the themes this month is about mentoring. Honestly, I can't say a single individual has mentored me. Yes, there have been those who've encouraged me, and author organizations which created resources for writers, and those in the business I've asked for advice. But that's not the same as mentoring.

So that leaves the other theme of "The first time I..."

As a multi-decade writer, there are a lot of firsts. I'm grateful to have achieved a number of them:
  • Getting a job as a newspaper reporter/photographer then seeing my articles and photos in print
  • Getting that call from an editor who wanted to publish Sirenz
  • Appearing at Book Expo America, and seeing over 300 people lined up, waiting for a copy of Sirenz
  • Hearing from fans who loved Sirenz
  • Getting a gift from a fan
  • Finding an agent
  • Becoming a member/committee member of the NJ SCBWI
  • Going to NYC for the SCBWI annual conference
  • Meeting so many authors and agents
  • Having an agent (not mine) say, "I read your book."
  • Seeing Sirenz, Sirenz Back in Fashion, and Blonde OPS in bookstores
  • Getting shutdown notices of my browser from the FBI because of the research I was doing for Blonde OPS
  • Getting roasted in a review that was so vitriolic, the org had to post an opposing viewpoint for balance
  • Dedicating my books to those special people in my life
  • Indie publishing my Evolution Revolution trilogy and it getting awards
  • Having a launch party for Sirenz
  • Meeting famous writers
  • Getting dumped by an agent. And an editor
  • Having books go out of print
  • Having Sirenz stolen out of the library (which, to me is a compliment)
  • Beating Dr Suess in the number of rejections for 1 book (he had 50, I stopped counting at 60)
  • Going to a book festival/signing/event and NO ONE shows up
I'm sure I could list more, but you see that an author's life is a combination of both good and terrible firsts. Just something to keep in mind when you see only the 'glamour' (ha ha) and not the reality. If you're a beginning/aspiring writer, don't let the bad outweigh the good, and if you're an established writer, hey, we're all simpatico to each others' disappointments. If you're a reader, there is an unpleasant underside when we create art and put ourselves out there, so be kind if you don't like the book, and be a hero and post/talk about a midlist writer.