“The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear.” – Lennon/McCartney
“Are we there yet?” – Flaherty children on all trips
One of the advantages of being
older than dirt seasoned is that even though everyone rolls their eyes when you talk, they often listen some because they know you’ve already been where they are. And lived to tell the story.
My road to publication started in the fifth grade when I spent most recesses by myself because I was clumsy, geeky, didn’t dress right, and was embarrassed by things in my life over which I had no control. What I did have control over was a pocket folder, loose-leaf college-rule paper, and a pen. Any pen. Pencil didn’t work for me.
By the time I was 11, I’d completed a book-length manuscript. It wouldn’t be book-length now–it would probably be about 100 pages. Take out the mistakes and it would be a long paragraph. Remove those unread, unseen stories from the pocket behind my heart and I’d still be the clumsy, geeky girl who doesn’t dress right.
Only I wouldn’t know who I was.
The road really was long and winding. Writing was always my way-back-there priority. I had a job, a family, a house. Not until the kids were on their way out of the nest did the geeky girl start jumping out again. I took a class, got a computer, started free-lancing. Thought maybe I’d write a book in my spare time. I didn’t go to college, I lived way out in the country where publishers and agents never ventured, and I didn’t know the first thing about writing a book, but I didn’t let any of that stop me.
I wrote one. I wrote several of them. I had an agent. I had more than one agent. Finally, after a huge number of rejections–I didn’t even begin to keep count–I sold a book on my own.
Then there were more rejections. Another agent. Another sale.
There have been nine published books now, counting the one that will be out in October. I still get rejections–one a few weeks ago came unexpected and hard and the words ran through my head and my heart, Am I there yet? “Sorry, it won’t work for us” doesn’t get any easier as I go along. It seems the long and winding road continues on. It never disappears or shortens.
Sometimes I ache with the sorrows and disappointments along the way. Sometimes I stare at the computer screen and think an empty page isn’t so bad. I try to keep up with the changes within the industry and find myself bewildered anyway. And sometimes resentful, too.
Then I remember–usually–that also found on the long and winding road are hills. Oh, my gosh, lots of hills. The recent rejection was at the bottom of one, looking up all sad and hopeless. The gorgeous cover on my next book is pretty close to the top. Someone says what I write is obsolete, no one’s reading that now, and I slip a little down another hill. I get a great review and a decent royalties check–it’s another hilltop and I’ve even negotiated a really difficult curve in that long and winding road.
I’m not there yet, but I always know who I am–clumsy, geeky, and not well-dressed are incidental. I’m pretty sure there’s another hilltop coming soon, and the long and winding road to publication never disappears.