So this is me...
And this is my editor and agent...
And for those interested, there is apparently no end to the questions "why isn't your book out yet? how come it takes so long?". The plus side of this wait is that a lot of dumb stuff that I could have done as an author, I've managed to do as a writer so much fewer people have noticed. The minus side is that two years is pretty much forever. And the closer I get to the top of the mountain, the more quiet I get. Have you noticed? I read blogs, but I don't comment. I don't spend as much time on FB or Twitter. This is not because I don't like those forums, but more because I feel like I'm nearing the hardest part of the mountain and it's the last ridge going up and it's super steep and I can't seem to find any hand holds. So my silence is sort of a paralyzing fear that I'll fail, that I'll fall, and the people I have holding the ropes below me won't be able to take my weight because I've been climbing for SO long. I'm tired, they're tired, and we have the hardest part yet to go.
A friend of mine gave me this art sculpture for my birthday. I like it very much because he said that it was a reminder that there are people holding the rope and I'll be okay.
I've learned a lot in the past 18 months, waiting for my book to release. Expectations met and unmet. Parts of the mountain that I thought would be very hard weren't. Parts I thought would be easy almost had me ready to quit. I never have been a "writing advice" type of blogger because what do I know? A lot of writing advice blogs just end up making me feel bad for things I'm not doing and should be, or things that I am doing and shouldn't be. But, if I were to cull down the most important things I've learned in the past year and a half, they would be this:
1. The online writing and publishing community is awesome. They are invaluable. They are also online. People appear and disappear because they have shit going on in their real lives. This happens. It is important to have real life connections. If you can go to conventions, go. If you can go to author signings, do that. Meet people in real life. Talk to them on the phone. See them as often as you can. Jolene flew here from Alaska in the middle of winter. We're stronger writing partners because we know each other. She's met my people. Hopefully, next year, I'll meet hers. People think I'm busy because I have books and editing and all the things. I am busy. I am also alone A LOT. This is hard.
2. "Write every day. Write once a week. Write 1k every hour. Write this, write that, etc." Everyone has a system. The point is that's their system. It does NOT work for everyone. Find your system. It works for you. That's good enough. Do the best you can. It's not a race, it's a journey, and the mountain is tall.
3. Be gracious, have integrity, and ask forgiveness. You'll make mistakes. Say sorry. You'll open your big mouth when you should keep it shut. You'll fire off comments, emails, texts, etc. in times when you should sit on your hands and do nothing. Say sorry. We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. It helps if we admit them.
4. Be fearless when you can. Be honest. Be proud of your work. If you don't want someone to walk all over you, get up off the floor. Fight for what you believe in. Be loyal to your friends. Ignore the things that really don't matter in the end.
5. Give everything 24 hours. It's publishing. I promise that whatever you think you want to say can wait one day. Put things in your "drafts" folder and decide in 24 hours.
6. Do other things. Have another life beyond writing/publishing. Volunteer if you can. Put your manuscript away for a night and play board games. Go somewhere you haven't before. Those places are where "new" story ideas come from. Read for pleasure.
7. Resist Googling yourself, your book, your friends, your friends' books. This way leads to unrest and who needs that noise?
8. Look to the long game. Write your book. Write your next book. Keep going. Stay focused on what's happening on your own yoga mat. Take two minutes to be jealous of another author (we are human, after all), then move on.