Wednesday, July 13, 2011
First. I want to say that little has changed since landing a contract for my Carolina Slade series. No, it has no title yet. Well, it does have a title...the one I gave it...but the editors are changing that. And yes, you learn to give and take in the process. Those who bow up their backs and demand editors to respect their creative genius in lieu of making changes better pack up those egos and go home. They compromise or lose.
I'm cool with the suggested changes thus far. Wine instead of beer. Moving a love scene. But I'm told more is to come in terms of edits. Four or five more levels of edits. I'm excited about that. I adore editing. I'm masochistic that way. There's something about tweaking a chapter a little more that excites me, because it's almost always an improvement. I understand they will dominate my time when the time comes. Bring it, I say.
It took me almost two years to find an agent and 18 months to land a contract. Saying I've been patient is an understatement. But I'm rather proud of myself as a result. The book is better, because the entire time I kept writing, rewriting and editing. Heck, being patient that long makes me puff up and strut. Who's patient anymore?
But in terms of the physical book, I'm in limbo land right now. I'm writing book three. Two is in the editor's hands for an initial read. And I'm just keeping on...writing more stories. When they ask for more, I can pull it off the shelf and say, "here you go!"
But I've had internal changes, for want of a better word. In-my-gut feelings, good and not so good.
I've realized that I still don't count in many circles because the book isn't out yet. Okay, I can see that. Actually had a writers group decline me as a speaker because they wanted authors with several books under their belt. Smack! I'm a first-timer who still hasn't paid her dues.
In some arenas, I'm welcomed. Congrats and all that. In others, I'm a newbie who doesn't know the ropes. For the Daphne du Maurier Awards year before last, I was one of three finalists in the mystery division, with this manuscript. In the hall, where everyone hob-nobbed and drank, I was giddy at the opportunity to speak with other authors. I was excited about "feeling the love" of my peers. My tag said Finalist. A little lady as wide as she was tall, asked about my work. When she realized I wasn't published yet, she literally said, "Oh," then smiled and walked away. Smack!
In a couple of occasions, those who are published have asked who my agent was or the name of my publisher. My agent isn't in New York and my publisher isn't one of the Big Six. I'm beyond pleased with my choices, who have proven to be great cheerleaders for me. Quality and established people, all of them. Credentials to die for. But some still compare. Makes me sad...for them. A social pecking order exists in all environments, I guess.
Many people who've traveled this road as long as I have are in awe that I found an agent and nabbed a traditional contract. I love the love. I've been able to let the tension out of my shoulders and write, knowing I have people on my team now who are aiding me in the process. I knew I could self-publish, and even sell a few books, but my goal was to be vetted and selected by a traditional publisher. I still pinch myself some days.
What's grander is that I've been welcomed into the arms of a group of writers in my shoes - first timers like me. We've connected on Twitter. We buy each others' books. We promote each other. I have an open invitation to pool side drinks and cake in Tucson, and another offer to meet at a Georgia conference. It's a camaraderie I'm so satisfied to have found.
Regardless of where I am as a writer, I'll face obstacles and accolades, deriding remarks and sweet support. Uncomfortable people and enjoyable people. The point is I have a series I'm darn proud of. The struggle has been rejuvenating, thrilling, life-altering. I've tackled a goal bigger than me, and in February 2012 when the book comes out, I can mark an item off my bucket list. I can choose to be tentative or empowered, and I choose to be ecstatic that I've come this far. And the higher I climb this ladder, the more rewards I see ahead.
Diligence is amazing, y'all. Stick with it.