Right before I got “the call,” I remember thinking how perfect the timing was. In just a few days, I was heading to an SCBWI conference. It would be a huge party, I figured, full of congratulations and hugs. But once I got there, I went very quiet. Didn’t want to tell anyone. The conference attendees were mostly pre-published writers, and I could easily remember my own feelings of jealousy whenever writers would talk about their book deals. I also remembered an even more unpleasant feeling–that because they had found success, it was more proof that something was wrong with me.
It’s funny how we sometimes look at other people’s successes as strikes against ourselves. When someone congratulated me at the conference, I found myself sharing how long it took me to get to this point (ten years); how many agents I ran through before finding the right one (Joan is number three); and how many turned me down during that year between agents before I signed with Joan (48. No joke.)
So you see, I didn’t just scratch out a manuscript on a pile of napkins in a cafe, land an agent and score a publisher on my first time out the gate. I put in my time and then some. I kept at it, trying to ignore that downer voice in my head. (“What if you’re 95 and on your death bed and have wasted decades toiling over words with nothing to show for it? Have you thought about that? Huh? Huh?”) And then one day, I got The Call.
I’m not going to tell you that it will happen to you if you don’t give up, but my book getting published is evidence that if you keep trying, keep revising, keep sending query letters out, keep going to conferences, keep studying successful books to improve your craft….you’re 100 percent more likely to reach your dream than if you don’t.