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.