Last month I was asked to write an article that would fit in The Author’s Journey column of the Oregon SCBWI’s regional newsletter.
I was honored – and scared – which turns out to be a combination of emotions that actually gets work out of me.
I wrote the following piece in a whir – which may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but I’ve been pretty blocked writing-wise for quite some time. Getting words on a page – any words – felt like a freaking miracle to me.
The fact that the words made sense and seemed to resonate with the readers who took the time to email me was staggering.
And revisiting the serendipitous magic that resulted in a published book was healing for me. It’s always good to remember that dreams come true through a mix of hard work, aligned timing, and simple luck – and you’re only in control of one of these.
I hope you enjoy the article.
So How Long Did it Take
There’s one question every author gets asked – whether they’re being interviewed or speaking on a conference panel – “How long did it take you to get published?”.
It’s a good question. A valid question. We’re writers, after all, and who better to give us a clue about the path to publication than someone who found a way through the wilderness and got a book on the bookstore shelf.
The only problem is that there are as many paths to that shelf as there are writers. Everyone’s journey is a little bit different. But one thing is true for all of us, and that’s the answer I usually give.
It’s taken my entire life – from birth to right now – to get published.
It’s taken every sentence I’ve scribbled since I learned to hold a pencil. Every book I’ve read. Every teacher who said, “I don’t understand what you mean here,” or “Tell me more about this.”
It’s taken every second I’ve spent daydreaming. Every time I’ve asked “I wonder?” Every hour I’ve passed following my curiosity.
It’s taken years of classes and conferences, craft books and critique partners.
Cycles of hope and doubt, failure and triumph.
It took forever.
And then, suddenly, it took no time and all.
I signed up for a manuscript critique at the Oregon SBWI conference in May of 2015 and had the incredible luck of meeting an agent who loved my book and my writing. I signed with her in June, and the novel was on submission in September. By March 2016 we had a publisher, and by the end of April 2017 my book was on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.
Which means I could say that my path to publication took two years. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?
But we all know that’s not quite true. We’re all writers here after all. So maybe a better question to ask is: “Was it worth it?”
And to that question, my answer is an easy one.
Absolutely. Every minute of it.
(Originally published in Oregon SCBWI Newsworthy November-December 2017)