When you sit down to write a novel, you have to lie to yourself a bit and say, “This will never see the light of day. Nobody will read this but me.” Then you add, “And maybe a friend…” The second you introduce the idea of that reader, everything changes. You start writing FOR someone. You start thinking about the joys of being read. You might picture a few more friends, but once you dream up readers, it’s a slippery slope toward imagining publication. One day, far in the future, of course. You’re realistic. You know how long the odds are. Finding an agent, then finding a publisher, then finding readers–none of those is guaranteed. You don’t want to set yourself up to fail, and you know that if you think only of publication, you’ll never find happiness in writing. Indeed, you may never find the motivation to just sit down and write for the sake of it.
But secretly, you daydream about what it would look like if these words were printed and bound. What would the cover look like? How would it look on a shelf? How would it feel to just hold the thing in my hand in book form.
Well, yesterday, I got to find this out for myself for the first time. See?
So how does it feel?
I’d love to say that when all this finally came to fruition, the sky opened up with magnificent dust-sprinkled sunlight, that birds sang specially for me, and the colors of the world seemed a bit richer. But the path to publication is long, with much sitting at way stations and much hiking along barren trails, lost and alone. If you’re lucky, you share the path with friends who are facing the same uphill challenges. (I’ve been very fortunate in this regard.)
The journey is also peppered with sublime moments–the day an agent asks to talk about representation, the day you sign your publishing contract, and of course, the day you open a package and see your book baby for the very first time. ALL of these are mini-celebrations that keep a carrot dangling and make us move forward that little bit.
Mentally, I know this is a big milestone. To be honest–emotionally, it feels a wee anti-climactic. Life continues on unabated around all these events. My lovely writing friends and Twitter acquaintances cry, “Huzzah!” but my manager still wants to know what I’m doing about the database architecture. I don’t get to quit my day job today (though I did buy shoes!).
But even so, I do not want to take any step along the way for granted. I know I need to stop and look back down the trail I’ve been climbing and really appreciate how far away and nigh on impossible this day seemed back at the beginning. I need to remember for a minute those days, alone on my back porch, or sitting across from my faithful CP, Kristin, banging out page after page of this book, or ripping them out and starting over. Put in proper perspective, the awe seeps in and gratitude hits me hard for everyone who helped me on this journey. I owe you all so much.
Those of you working your way up that hill, find your trail buddies, keep your chin up, and keep trudging along. Be prepared for how long and hard (twss) this whole process is, but don’t ever give up. I hope one day, you’ll all get to hold your own books in your hands.