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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wake Up Call

I'm no Louisa May Alcott, but I love this image.

Most of you know I've been working at this writing stuff for more than a few years. When I first got serious about it--which came after I joined the organized romance community--I was still young enough that I felt I had all the time in the world. So, I piddled and jumped from manuscript to manuscript, just wherever the spirit took me at the time. No hurry, right? I wanted to learn all I could, become a better writer. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be. So, I piddled at that. But mostly, I piddled. (I'm beginning to hate that word.)

Somehow, with all the piddling, I managed to get one manuscript into good enough shape to send out. So I submitted, wherever I could that would take unagented material. I got requests and I got rejections. I even won a few contests. The feedback from editors, agents, and judges was enough to tell me that I had learned how to write. Ultimately, I ran out of NY publishers and submitted to a small press/epub, and that's where I ended up being published.

That should have been the beginning of something. Right? Well, no, it wasn't. Because I didn't have the big contract with an advance and those nice (as opposed to pitiful) royalty checks arriving in the mail, I still felt like I was on the journey and hadn't reached the destination. Therefore, I continued to piddle (someone, please give me a different word!). And I did this despite all the nudges, lectures, and downright kicks in the butt from writing pals to get a move on. Bless their hearts. They meant well, but I was too hard-headed to listen.

Then, near the end of last year, something happened that was a wake up call, a real slap to the forehead moment, and I wanted to kick myself all over the house. Most of all, I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself. I received a very nice email from a lady in California. She said she'd "discovered me as an author while browsing on Amazon." She'd bought my book and read it on her Kindle and enjoyed it so much, (words to put a glow around a writer's heart) she went looking for other books on Amazon, but couldn't find any. She asked if I could send her a list of my other titles and point her to where she might find them. Well...let me tell you. At that moment, I wanted to dig a hole and crawl into it.

At that point, I started looking around. I saw my writing friends with several books listed under their names, and more in the works and already contracted. Most of these people started out at nearly the same time I did, and some way later. They were writing! They were publishing! How had I missed the boat?

It took a couple of days before I was able to respond to the lady's email and inform her there were no other books. The words were very hard to type. Incredibly, she wrote a response and told me to "get those books written!" How 'bout that. A total stranger said the same thing my writer friends had been telling me for years. And until that moment, it didn't sink in that I've been shooting myself in the foot all this time.

I know that most of you who read this will be shaking your heads and saying, "Told you so." I know you did, and I should have listened, but I guess I had to travel the long path and learn the hard lessons at my own snail's pace. But thanks for sticking with me and keeping the faith. It's meant more than you'll ever know. From here on out, if you catch me piddling, just say the words, "Sonoma lady." and I'll get the message. I may not have any more luck with NY than I did the first time around, but I have to try. And, hey, they've started buying westerns again!

Devon

6 comments:

  1. Devon,

    I'm glad Sonoma Lady wrote to you. Go Sonoma Lady!

    If you get tired of the word "piddle" you may use "fiddlefart." Means basically the same thing, I'm told.

    Not that I would know anything about it, of course...

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  2. I'm tickled that this lady emailed you! I'm sure it was a very affirming thing... and I'm happy that it brought you back to writing... and to the rest of us!

    Amy

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  3. Magdalena, I'm so glad you started your own blog. If you haven't figured it out yet, I (and others) love your wit!

    Thanks for the new word. Fiddlefart pretty much fits me to a T. ;o)

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  4. Ahh, Amy. That's so sweet. I've missed all you guys. I'm not all the way back yet. Yes, I'm writing, and I have goals now, lady, GOALS! But I still don't have my memberships reinstated. Hopefully, that will happen soon. Meanwhile, please keep doing the blog. I'm enjoying it so much.

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  5. I, for one, am glad to see you back. I missed your blogs and messages so much and I'm tickled to death Sonoma Lady wrote you.

    {{{hugs}}}

    The next time you need a good swift kick in the pants you know where to reach me (hehe)

    "I write for the same reason I berath- because if I didn't, I would die." Isaac Asimov

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  6. Taryn, you're a good friend. These nice notes are making me feel all mushy and sentimental. And I do know how to get in touch--if I need a good kick.

    I still have the pretty mile markers you made for me. I'm looking forward to posting one for the first time very soon. :o)

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