The life of a writer has a lot of ups and downs. Why I chose a career that would send me on a roller coaster ride when I hate roller coasters, I have no idea. Oh yeah, that’s right, I didn’t like math and science. So when considering today’s blog topic, I had to sit here and stare at the computer screen for a while, remembering a lot of the highs and lows of my career.
For the highs, there have been wonderful moments — winning two Golden Heart Awards, finaling in the contest eight times, winning two Maggie Award of Excellence medallions, seeing my first cover for the first time, signing my first book contract. Well, you get the idea. But I have a feeling my best day is the same as it is for lots of writers — the day I sold my first book. As it happens, on a personal level it wasn’t all that great a day. Let me explain. After 11 years of rejection and unsold manuscripts that numbered in the teens, my agent finally called me with the news that Razorbill/Penguin had bought my first two young adult manuscripts. Yay! Now for the bad part. I was sick as a dog when I got the call, in bed with an all-over body rash and fever as a result of a bad reaction to antibiotics I’d been given for the foot infection (caused by shoes I’d worn to the RWA National Conference 10 days before) and sinus infection raging in my head. I could barely talk because of my sore throat. Yeah, I was a big, pitiful mess. I was so excited, but I could only stay up long enough to call or e-mail a couple of people at a time, and then I had to go back to bed because my fever would spike. Good times! It really was an awesome feeling to get that call, however. I’d very nearly given up a year earlier. I’m so glad I didn’t.
Now for the lows. There were those 11 years of rejection letters hitting my mailbox, not winning contests, harsh critiques/contest feedback, etc. But there isn’t much that feels worse than being orphaned by a publisher. Odd how the call about sales from Razorbill were my high moment, but my lowest moment came because they declined to sign me to another contract even before the second book on my first two-book contract came out. Like a year before.I was convinced I was going to have the shortest publishing career in history, that they were wondering why in the world they’d bought books from me. The truth was that my contemporary tearjerker YA books were hitting the market right when paranormal YA was exploding all over the place. Razorbill decided to go that direction instead.
But in a lemonade-from-lemons scenario, I eventually got the rights back to those two books, gave them new covers, ditched the pen name I’d had for those two books, and re-released them. Now they’re available in e-book format as well and in countries outside the U.S., neither of which were the case when they were originally released.
There have been highs and lows since that day I was orphaned, and I have no doubt there will continue to be both in the future. It’s just the nature of this business we’ve all embraced because it’s what calls to us. I’ll just try to enjoy the view from the top of the roller coaster before I scream my fool head off on the way down and try not to pass out.