I recently found out that a big hairy audacious dream of mine just moved one huge important step farther towards reality: my novel Ice Will Reveal has been accepted for publication by Hadley Rille Books, with a tentative publishing date of early 2013. I am, how can I put this...oh hell, why not: verklempt. It’s actually kind of hard to describe exactly what it feels like, but I kind of want to, which is why it’s taken me a week to actually blog the good news. I know...metaphors to the rescue! Ok, then: my feelings about finally becoming a published author are a spicy, complex goulash: there’s a good solid base of lots of “squee! I’m gonna be a REAL author!” type excitement, of course, and a decent amount of pride; but also a good splash of anxiety (will anyone buy my book? will anyone like it? will anyone even read it?) and a generous dollop of trepidation around all the new things I’ll have to learn (marketing, self-promotion, blablabla). Spicing it up further are a sprinkle of validation and relief that the next phase of this long journey has finally been achieved, mixed with a pinch of amazement and a bit of self-chastisement at how long the process has taken so far and how much longer it will yet take before the book is printed and in a bookstore or library (or someone’s e-reader). And I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that there’s also a zest there of nervousness about going the independent small press route instead of continuing to try to break down the doors (or glass ceilings, or whatever) of the big publishing houses.
But enough about goulash, let’s switch metaphors, shall we? (It’s my blog, I can do what I want to!) It’s been such a long and winding road to get to this critical juncture of “yay, someone wants to publish the novel I wrote”, and it feels important to take a look backwards and see how I got from “writer” to “author”. So let me lay out some of the journey, both as a hopefully useful reminder for myself and in the vague hope that perhaps it might be useful to other people for whom this kind of project doesn’t go quickly or easily either. (I know I suffered at first, and still do in my more gloomy moments, from the “I must not be very good at this if it’s so hard and it takes so long” syndrome. It’s a sucky syndrome. Try to avoid it.)
Ice Will Reveal (which used to be called something else entirely until it was pointed out to me that I’d unintentionally used a double entendre as my title—doh!) is my first novel-length work. In fact it’s so long, it’s practically two novels, but that’s a whole other blog post. It’s my newbie novel, my MFA equivalent: it’s the project with which I learned how to elevate my craft from “unconsciously incompetent with the occasional flash of competence” to “conscious incompetence with slightly more frequent flashes of competence”. I started writing it sometime around the end of 2003, triggered by a series of entertaining emails back and forth with a friend of mine where we each recounted the ever more epically heroic and over-embellished achievements of our individual characters from a D&D game we were playing (yes, yes, I’m THAT kind of geek...but in all fairness I can say that this novel bears only the very smallest resemblance to either D&D or to that long-ago game). At that stage in my life, I had a fairly absorbing day job as a Licensing Manager for a calendar company and was the mother of a young preschooler. I didn’t write very often or very much at a time, but I was determined to try to produce a longer piece of work. I had always been interested in and good at writing (in fact, I started out as a Creative Writing major in college before getting wildly distracted by academia for oh, roughly a decade), but I’d never written anything as big as a novel before (though I’d read a half a zillion of them already.) In what I used to sarcastically refer to as “my copious spare time”, I started reading books about writing and participating in online critique groups. Eventually I found myself some in-person writing buddies too, all of which helped a lot.