Five years ago, dewy-eyed and madly in love, I made some very big decisions in my life. My fiancé and I decided to combine our incomes and buy a house and get him to the US. (He lives in Europe.) Life happened and soon after, I found myself a stay-at-home mom with a mission: Get both of us published. For various reasons, I concentrated my efforts on my fiancé’s work. Lo and behold, magic happened in the form of an agent and then a contract with Random House. (Walking in the doors at Random House in New York has to be one of the most memorable events of my life.)
Then it was my turn. After a year of writing/editing/querying/finding an agent/realizing the agent was not right for me(or me for her), in the end, I had nothing to show for it. Well, except for a little more smarts–which is something. So I started again from the beginning. By the time 2009 dawned, though my new MS received a lot more positive feedback, my gut told me it wouldn’t garner an agent.
For many reasons, at the end of 2008, I decided 2009 was my ‘make it or break it’ year in regards to publishing. I invented a pen-name, switched genres, set my eyes on e-publishing, started writing, and my first two shorts were contracted one after the other. Both were published at the end of 2009 a few months apart. The year was full of edits. Editing for the follow-up book for my fiancé, editing for my publication. Things were looking up.
And then life hit. In one month, we realized that RH wasn’t going to pick up the optional third book, my grandmother, one of my closest friends, passed away and my fiancé decided it was also his make or break year and he broke it off. Completely.
So early in 2010, I wasn’t making resolutions, I was deciding how to face the rest of the year. I’d made a logical decision that if I hadn’t made it by 2009, I’d give up writing, rejoin the workforce and get my man home. That was no longer necessary, but what was, and is, necessary was paying the mortgage. And that brought the ‘have I made it or do I abandon the dream’ question into a new perspective. In the end, there are only so many hours in a day.
I’d decided that no, two e-books doesn’t mean I’ve made it… but, then, what did it mean? It meant that someone liked my work enough to contract it, it meant that there are people out there who liked my writing enough to buy it.
I can tell you, that with a good contract from RH, my ex-fiancé still doesn’t believe he’s made it. So what does it mean for a writer? Does ‘making it’ mean you’ve published? That you sell a particular amount of books? Or does it mean you can quit your day job? Retire if you were so inclined?
Or is writing one of those occupations where you’re never done, where there is always another horizon to find, always another goal to reach? And if so, do I stop now when it’s taken me so long to walk those first few steps?
In case you’re interested, although I haven’t ‘made it’ yet, what ever that is, I won’t stop writing. I am lacking a damn good CP, but I’ve learned I can’t not write. So even if I have to steal the hours from sleep and I’m a little slower than I once was, (and really suck at posting blogs lately)I’m not giving up. In in that sense, I have made it. I’m a writer.
My question to you: How will you know when you’ve ‘made it’ as a writer? What does that mean to you?
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