Eat, Pray, Publish
I met my husband on match.com. I’d known him approximately three weeks before we got engaged. I moved in with him a month after we got engaged. We got married the following spring, and a year later I was pregnant with our first child.
We’ll have a five year wedding anniversary in may.
When I think about it, I realize just how bat shit crazy I must have looked. I mean, who meets a guy online and then gets engaged before she’s even had time to complete at least one menstrual cycle?
I was 27. I’d just moved to the Delta of Arkansas to teach developmental English. I’d never been married. I’d had one serious relationship in my past and one on-again-off-again fling that took up a tumultuous seven years of my life. Anyway, like I said, I’d never been married. I’d never lived with a man. I’d never had any children. I’d never even taken anyone home to meet my parents.
For the last decade, I’d just been having a lot of fun that never worked out. A lot of trial and error. I’d cried a lot. I’d laughed a lot. I’d grown up. College was over. Friends were moving on. My life, it seemed, had finally begun. And then I met my husband. It just worked. It just clicked. It was just the right relationship at the right time. Literally from the first phone conversation I loved him. After our first weekend together I called my mom and said to her, “I’m going to marry that man.”
For me, writing my first novel was like meeting my first (and only, I hope!) husband. I was in the bathtub one night reading 50 Shades of Grey on my Kindle when I thought to myself, “If E.L. James can write a best selling novel, then so can I.” That night I began writing Stay. No prep work. No notes. No character sketches. Just a first chapter and a promise to myself that no matter what I would finish.
As I’ve said in earlier posts, I’d had the idea for the novel in my head since 2008. However, it was always just an idea. I never made any plans to actually write it. To this day I don’t know how I got through the first draft without quitting except that night was the just right night. It was the right relationship at the right time.
Similarly publishing contracts are that way. Becoming a best-seller is that way. Of course having a good agent, a good promotion team, a good publisher helps (and also being a good writer). But I’m convinced that 99.9% of that first book deal is all about luck. It’s all about catching someone at the right time. On a good day. After a good lunch. After a successful meeting. Whatever. You might have written the most amazing book in the world and a publisher might tell you just like he told J.K. Rowling, “You’ll never be successful in children’s literature,” or something to that effect.
As writers, especially wet-behind-the-ears-to-the-industry writers, we tend to take everything that every publisher and agent say to heart. We let every word stab at us, wound us. It hurts. Don’t deny it. Let it burn. But then forget about it. Take what is helpful and better your work. Ignore what isn’t. They don’t know everything. Really and truly, they don’t. I’m still a newbie because I’ve yet to sell a book. I’ve been rejected by hundreds of literary agents over a span of years. Some of them venomous rejections. I’ve been rejected by publishers. I suspect that I will continue to be rejected by publishers. Keep in mind that although you are talented, today might not be your day.
Or the next day.
Or the next.
But your day will come. IT WILL. You’ve just got to keep on failing until one day you don’t.
Until then have a lot of fun that never works out. Have lots of trials and errors.
Cry a lot.
Laugh a lot.