Picture it, Sicily, 1922…just kidding. (Did anyone even get that reference?)
Seriously though, picture it, Atlanta, July 2013, the RWA National Conference. Five Bad Girlz stood outside the Marriott Marquis, trying to decide where to go to dinner while simultaneously chatting up other authors in the smoke break section.
You know how pivotal times in your life, be they grand or gruesome, stick with you in perfect clarity? This was one of those times for me. I stood there, as my best writer friends in the world talked about the workshops they’d attended that day, the struggles with their current WIP, their writing path in general, and that’s when it hit me.
I wasn’t happy.
As the smoke break continued and no decision was reached on a restaurant, I dug down deep, to the core of my unhappiness: My writing.
I was adrift. Doubting my skills, my direction. I felt miserable about my WIP and worn down by the rejection. Being told no when you believe in your story is one thing. Being told no when you’re also 100% meh about what you’re writing = Not. Good.
I was lost, angry, defeated. And the meh was immense. I’d hit my Big Black Writer Moment. All was lost – or so I thought.
Fast forward through the Dark Night of my Soul and autumn of my discontent. The wallowing, the procrastinating. It sucked, but I wasn’t alone. My friends were there to assure me I’d figure things out, and eventually, I did.
Cut to December 2013. I finally figured out my new direction and the genre that made me happy with my writing. I wrote and rewrote and wrote some more. In March of 2014, I had a manuscript and I queried agents. This time, I got bites of interest.
April 2014 I signed with my agent and went out on submission in early June. By the end of July 2014, my first book was rejected. Albeit nice, complimentary rejections, they were still rejections.
August of 2014 was my crisis of confidence. Not quite another Dark Night of my Soul, but I was struggling. Until something brilliant happened: I finally remembered who I am as a person, in every other aspect of my life. That person is strong of will and hard of head. That person always finds a way.
So, I said “F*ck it!” and decided I was going to write and do my thing, no matter what. I was a writer, and how and when I published would never change that. I’d give it my all and let the chips fall where they may. I developed a Plan A and B, and even a C in the wings in case the first two didn’t work out. I was going to be an author in the McGovy name no matter what. Just watch me, I thought. I am doing the thing!
I wrote and wrote and wrote, and in January 2015 I had another book. Book 1 of a new series. I went on submission in February and went right to work on Plan B: Write Book 1 of a whole different series.
In July 2015, I got the call from my agent. Standing in line at the allergist, to get shot in the arm with dust and dog dander venom, my phone buzzed. I saw Kirk and Spock’s faces with my agent’s name above them. (Yes, Kirk and Spock are my default display for calls unless I have a cute picture of you. I need a cute pic of Nicole. I digress.)
“I have good news!” she said, and I don’t remember much after that. The important thing was we’d sold my book. Three of them to be exact. Exactly two years from the day I thought all was lost, I hit a huge milestone. The job isn’t over and there about one hundred and seven more milestones ahead – both good and bad – but what a difference a couple of years made.
If you’re down on yourself, down on your writing, down on life in general, I have great news: A lot can change in two years. Or one year, or one month. I’ve seen wonderful progress happen for other people in a handful of weeks. In this craft and business, you never know what might happen.
Life is fluid, and wherever you are in your life, on any one day, is not an absolute. Change is inevitable. If you’re unhappy, your situation can get better. Even when we think all is lost, it isn’t. We just have to figure out where we are, where we want to go, and start moving.
A few friends with some road maps never hurt either.