Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trusting the process

Fiction writing is much different than writing articles, essays or non-fiction.  Novel writing is intimate.  Novel writing is like standing naked in the spotlight and saying, "here I am, world!"  Months pass as we breathe life into characters and immerse ourselves into their fictional adventures.  We fall in love, experience heartache, feel fear and celebrate triumphs. Eventually, however, another story begs to be told so we write "the end" on the final page.

If we're lucky--really lucky--that isn't the ending for those characters.  If we're lucky--as I have been--the story is picked up by a publisher and the characters will live on in the minds of strangers.  In order for that to happen, we must let our creation go. (Insert scary music here...let's think of Jaws.) 

I confess that I'm a bit of a control freak.  Well, that's an understatement.  I am a complete control freak who is on a steep learning curve in Publishing 101. My first lesson is that surrendering control--trusting that others know what they're doing--is necessary for my novel to be born into the world.  Surrender...ominous word, isn't it?

Last week I filled out a questionnaire regarding the cover of my book.  What the characters look like may seem like an innocent question until the realization hits that this is it.  Sure, I know what they look like in my mind's eye.  Yes, I described them in the book.  Describing them to an artist who is creating a permanent visual for the cover of my novel, on the other hand, freaked me out.  What if the artist interprets them 'wrong'?  What if I hate the cover?  That's when trust came into play. I need to trust the artist.  I need to trust the publisher who hired the artist.  I need to trust the process.

Trust the process...not an easy thing for a control freak writer to do.  (Imagine manic laughter and nervous twitching here.)  

Being on that steep learning curve of Publishing 101, I took it in stride when the list of edits appeared in my in-box today.  No problem, I thought.  In fact, I welcomed them!  I have craved this for so long that seeing those edits nearly made me drool with anticipation.  This is it, I thought again.  One step closer to seeing my novel born.  How exciting is that?  Very exciting.  But then someone whispered in my ear about bad editors who wreck an author's style and kill a book before it ever has a chance.  (Nice, by the way...thanks for that, you know who.)  Well, to hell with that negativity.  I trust that the editor wants me to be the best that I can be.  I trust that the editor sees things that I perhaps overlooked. I trust the process.

More letting go.  Whew.  That's a lot for a control freak like me to do, but maybe I'm growing as a person and as an author.  I trust that others are working at their highest level toward our common goal of success.

Everyone has their niche.  I write.  Artists create covers.  Editors see things from another perspective.  Success is rarely a solo act.  I understand that so...here I am...surrendering my anxiety over control...and trusting the process.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And we begin...

Author.  It's a word that I have aspired to add to my name for a long time.

As a kid growing up in South Dakota, I used to sit on the roof of my porch and daydream about being an author.  I couldn't read enough books--everything from romance novels to true crime stories filled my shelves.  I started writing my own stories when I was nine years old.  My imagination was bigger than my vocabulary, but I managed.

My classmates were my biggest fans back then.  My stories were passed around on the school bus and in study halls all through high school.  I suppose it could have gone the other way--like being made fun of for being such a geek--but, fortunately for me, I had cool friends who encouraged me to go for it.

So I did.  I went for it.  I studied journalism in college, but never abandoned my dream of publishing novels.  Wherever I went over the years, so did my notebook.  Europe.  The Caribbean. Central America. Mexico.  Notebooks evolved to computers, but my dream of novel publication eluded me.

Now my dream is reality.  After years of rejection letters, writers' conferences, career detours and several shelved manuscripts, I heard the one word I've been waiting for: YES.

I could hide behind false modesty, but that's not who I am or what I'm about.  When I heard the magic words, "we would like to acquire your book, KISS ME SLOWLY, for publication" I felt an immense feeling of satisfaction.  Yes, I said satisfaction.

In fact, I am not sure I have ever felt so satisfied in my life as I did at that precise moment.  All the years of work, frustration, disappointments, revisions, and rejections finally paid off.  Hanging in there paid off.  Adapting paid off.  Always moving forward paid off.  Growing a thick skin paid off.  That is satisfying beyond anything else I have ever experienced.

To say it feels good to stand on this side of having a dream come true is an understatement.  Hell, yes, it feels good!  This must be what it feels like to summit Everest!  Oh, yeah, baby, it's damn satisfying.

Whatever your dream is, never give up.  The journey may be wrought with obstacles, but the destination is an oasis that parallels the beauty of Nirvana.

And so it begins...life as an author with a publication timeline and other books in the pipeline.  This is it.  The beginning.