Baby Steps on the Author Game Board
I started writing seriously after I met Nora Roberts in a New York City elevator and realized we were wearing the same dress. She looked great in that dress. I loved that dress. I still do, though it doesn’t love me as well as it used to! The point is, great minds think alike. Right? So if Nora and I liked the same dress, maybe there were other similarities in the way our minds worked. I also have a twin sister called Nora, but that’s another story.
I took that chance elevator meeting as a sign to put my backside in a chair and start writing the novel I had always been meaning to write. But I didn’t know the rules of the game, or if there were any rules to writing that masterpiece simmering in my brain. By the way, to no one’s surprise, that story was not a masterpiece. Not even close, though it was a good first try and I finished writing it. One [bad] story under my belt. The next would be better. I guess it was, because an editor wanted it. Two steps forward! A week later, the editor was no longer working at that major publishing house. Sigh, take two steps back on that game board.
I wrote another book and entered it in a major romance contest because I felt it was time to get feedback from experienced romance writers about what I was doing wrong or doing right. I won that contest, a Golden Heart in short historical romance. Oh, baby! I was on my way again. Two steps forward. I was going to write Regency romances with light paranormal elements and no one was going to stop me. To my surprise, publishers didn’t want Regencies with paranormal elements. Huh? Another two steps back on that game board. Then suddenly, every publisher wanted them. Oh, baby again! Until I received the revision letters, all but one asking me to cut out the paranormal elements. I tried, but the books lost their luster. I didn’t send them out. Still, I kept writing and honing my craft. Who knew there had to be an internal conflict, or that the hero and heroine had to have goals and motivations? Or that every woman, no matter her age, race, or religion loves a Scotsman in a kilt?
I don’t regret a single setback or disappointment. I’m a better writer because of them. In fact, my debut novel My Fair Lily comes out in Fall 2014 and while that’s a Regency romance without any paranormal elements, I used those setbacks to change my tactics and that ultimately led to my being published. My wonderful publisher Booktrope is also going to publish my paranormal series starting in 2015 because I absolutely could not let go of my other-world characters. So you see, setbacks can have positive outcomes, and the one constant is that I never stopped writing. I did stop counting the number of steps forward or backward on that game board because what mattered most was doing something I enjoyed. I have since met many talented, generous writers along the way who have enriched my life. None of them, however, has a dress as fabulous as the one Nora Roberts and I were wearing in that elevator!
We’ve all experienced steps forward and back on the game called Life. How do you manage when you’re forced to take a step back? How do you celebrate when you move ahead? Don’t forget to celebrate small victories. It’s easy to overlook a small step forward when there are so many left to go, but do put on that party hat and break out the chocolate bars! It is, after all, one step closer to the end goal. Right?