Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reflecting on a year ago

Savanna mentioned to me recently that I should blog about my experiences of the past year, a year in which I finally, finally got The Call. It's still hard to believe sometimes. I fear I'll wake up and it'll have all been a cruel dream. But each day that I wake up and walk across the hall to my office makes it a little more real.

I wrote and submitted for more than a decade before I sold my first two books on July 24, 2007. So a year ago today, I was still plugging away and wondering if I'd wasted all that time, if the dream would always elude me. I wasn't going to give up, but it was getting harder every day to keep typing, to keep believing. But keep typing I did.

The weeks and months since July 24 have been surreal, to say the least. I sold those first two books (YA titles) to Razorbill, a part of Penguin Young Readers Group. Three months later, I sold my first two romances to Harlequin American after going through two sets of revisions for the editor on the first one. Since then, I've written more, revised a lot, worked on outlines, brainstormed with my editor, strategized with my agent, seen a preliminary cover for my first YA, got my Web site redesigned to reflect to two halves of me (I'm writing the YAs under the name Tricia Mills, the romances under my own name), ordered new business cards and bookmarks, attended my first Romantic Times conference (where I signed my first autograph on a bookseller's tote bag), and booked several appearances and speaking engagements at conferences and reader events. And, of course, since I am a writer (and therefore neurotic), I worried that if I didn't hold on tight, it would all go away. So far, it hasn't. I'm hopeful that I'm just at the beginning of a long, successful career.

Believe me when I say I know how awful it feels before you sell. You are plagued with doubts -- Am I good enough, or does my writing suck? Am I wasting time I could be spending with family and friends or pursuing other interests? Am I being selfish by writing and not contributing more to the family's income? I had all those thoughts and more. But when an editor or your agent calls to tell you you've finally sold that first book, all the rejection, all the doubt, all the hard work, all the sacrifice is worth it. It's a magical moment that is imprinted on your brain forever. You'll still have doubts (Will my editor hate this and demand the advance back?) and battles to fight, but you just have to realize that that's part of the writer's life. Acknowledge it and move on. Because you have more books to write, more stories to share with readers.

If you're still waiting for that first sale, keep plugging along. One of my favorite quotes is "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Don't depend on others to bestow luck on you. Go out and make your own luck.


Savanna Kougar said...

Oh Trish! I'm so glad you blogged about your past year and your successes. Congratulations. And I so know what you mean. There's that glorious high moment of being contracted. Then the neurosis just transforms like a were beastie. Not complaining! Just saying like Trish, get used to it. That's the way it works.
Share your covers and blurbs when you can!

Lexie O'Neill said...

Dear Trish,
Next week, I get to start plugging again! I'm excited! Especially since every Monday (no kidding, on Monday every time) for the past month, it seems, I've gotten bad contest scores (okay, not bad, but not a final either, something about wanting the romance up front and I want to write straight fantasy), or a rejection from an agent, or something blah!
Thank you for the great example!

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

Great post, Trish! Even though I got the call from Roberta to represent me, we still have not sold my first novel. All those same worries you mentioned go through my mind. But I have faith it will happen in its own time. While I wait, I polish and craft new ideas so I'm ready when it happens. :)

Destiny Blaine said...

I’m a firm believer in your statement. “Go out and make your own luck” and because I am, I believe those who aren’t willing to go out and work for it, seldom find reason to believe in it.

I see a lot of this in casino gambling. As a ghost writer, I’ve written extensively about luck and all aspects of gambling—both in fiction and non-fiction. I believe that the luckiest people in the world are those who ultimately lived by their own rules and worked by them too—and typically, they worked hard to achieve their goals.

These people refuse to believe they’ll lose at anything and it goes beyond the casino floor. They walk into a room and immediately prove to those around them—they have confidence. They have a winning attitude and it goes beyond business.

I’ve watched the power of “go out and make your own luck” in all areas of my life. I believe those who have the confidence and those who are willing to work hard for what they want in life create their own luck. No one stands in their way because no one can. These are the few who refuse to quit. They have “good luck” because they work for it. When they achieve “good luck” then it’s theirs to own and generally Lady Luck is mighty kind to those who’ve earned her favor.

Congratulations on your success. I’m a habitual reader who will definitely pick up your books and I look forward to reading your work.


Mel Hiers said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Trish. Faith is hard. But hearing about your path to publication always inspires me because you worked so hard for so long. You deserve every success! :-)

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Trish, I agree we make our own luck. Luck seems to be such an important part of succeeding at this game of writing, but paraphrasing well known golfer Arnold Palmer, "The harder I practice the luckier I get!"