Now that I'm on this side of the publication process, am I any less confused? Not really, but I've learned a few things that surprised me.
|Photo via Anne Davis on Flickr|
1. Not much changes . . . I may have fought for publication for years, but my day-to-day life is the same sleep-deprived, yoga-pants-wearing, living-on-coffee-and-Nutella existence that it was before my novel was published. I still get to scrub toilets, struggle with income taxes, and study brilliant books by my favorite authors that make me achingly aware of how far I still have to go with this whole writing thing.
2. Everything changes . . .The book exists in bookstores. My friends and family stop by the book section at Target when they’re shopping for groceries, and they email me photos of my book beside books by
3. Readers bring their own lives into every story . . . Of course, I knew that, because I’m a reader, too, and I know how much books have always meant to me. But I didn’t anticipate how it would feel to get a message from someone who bares themselves and thanks me for mirroring something they have felt, or for taking them out of a hard place in their lives. Meeting readers as an author, online or in person, is a constant, joyful surprise. Every note or comment from a reader is like unwrapping a gift. Except when it's not.
4. Reviews are fascinating . . . Even the worst reviews show just how much the filter of a reader’s life brings into their own, individual reading experience. And no matter how much the reviewer loved the story, or enjoyed it, or hated it—no matter how much they hoped it would be more like something else, or how late they stayed up reading it past their intended bedtime, the simple truth is that they still read my book. The book that I made up inside my head. Which is awe-inspiring and gratifying and deeply humbling.
5. It’s not a hobby anymore . . . The friends and family who used to secretly exchange she’s-a-bit-delusional-but-we-love-her-anyway smiles (the sort of smile familiar to every writer or artist), those same doubters suddenly see my writing as a “serious endeavor.” They expect me to know unknowable things, like how my book is doing or who’s reading it. They also ask helpful questions like, “Is there going to be a movie deal?” or “Now that you’ve written this, are you going to try a real (aka “adult”) novel?” I'm also constantly aware that I have an agent, editor, publisher, and readers who are expecting me to write another book. Fast. And all the time, I'm trying to manage my expectations, because I know how lucky I have been so far, and it mystifies me. But I keep looking over my shoulder for luck to run out.
6. There’s no “easy button” for writing a book . . . There are a few things I've learned about writing in the course of getting the first book through the publication process. I’ve learned to focus more structure and on painting specific images and emotions in a reader’s mind than on the sound of pretty words strung together. I know that editors and copyeditors are my safety net and that everyone . . . everyone! . . . at a publishing company works long, hard hours trying to get a book into the hands of the specific readers most likely to enjoy it. But I still know nothing about how to write a book in less than eight drafts. I am struggling with the third book as much as I did with the first two, and all I can do is put my head down, keep writing, and hope that readers will love my weird, quirky characters as much as I do.
7. You’re a writer because you write . . . On this side of publication, I realize I'm no different than I was before my book was published. I write to connect with readers--to share my thoughts with other people--which is the same search for connection that is at the heart of human existence. But whether that connection happens with one person, a hundred people, or a hundred thousand people doesn’t make me any less or more of a writer. I'm a writer for having written, not for having published. As are all writers.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Are you writing? Wherever you are on your journey, I hope you're enjoying the path, because that's what counts. Take the time to enjoy every step of the way, and don't focus so much on the end of the path.
If you're a reader? Thank you. Overwhelmingly, from the bottom of my soul, thank you! The more I interact with readers, the more I get the opportunity to think about what a difference being a reader makes to the type of human being a person becomes.
What about you? Are you writing? Thinking about writing? What makes you want to be a writer?
* * * *
THIS WEEK'S GIVEAWAY
WIN Signed Hardcover PLUS
Charm Bookmark & Compulsion Necklace
Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in this spellbinding new trilogy.
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
Purchase Compulsion at Amazon
Purchase Compulsion at IndieBound
View Compulsion on Goodreads
(And don't forget that COMPULSION is on sale for the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks for $1.99 until the end of January!) : )
a Rafflecopter giveaway