THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD...
Now that I have come down from the ceiling (directly related to having landed a book deal) and settled onto firm ground once again, I have had a chance to reflect on the journey thus far. The Beatles would affirm that it was "a long and winding road."
Perhaps my trek could be useful to some out there who have set out on a similar journey. For those who have already traveled this road, it might be interesting to compare notes. Here are just the facts, ma'am (relying on memory in many cases because, as you will see, the journey was long and arduous):
- 1994 - Sitting under a palm tree on Myrtle Beach, while my husband watched our twin boys, I wrote a poem called "Oceanography," a cathartic exercise in dealing with my mother's mental illness
- 1996 - "Oceanography" published in The Texas Review
- 1994-2004 - Numerous poems dealing with the same topic were written and published in various literary magazines.
- 2004-2006 - A collection of twenty poems materializes, and writing buddy Carol Baldwin suggests that they need to be a book.
- 2007 - Work begins on the first draft, called Breakdown
- 2009 - Attend the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua, NY and work directly with Patti Gauch, retiring senior editor of Philomel Books
- 2010 - Sign with Julia Kenny, agent at MarksonThoma Agency in New York
- 2011 - Revision requested by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company on YA novel written in verse titled CRAZY
- 2012 - Receive 3 offers within 2 weeks, sign with Eerdmans for a 2014 publication date
If you are good at math, you already know this process spanned eighteen years. Eighteen years! I feel like this has to be some kind of record. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. But hopeful writers listen up. Life went on as usual for most of those years, with full-time teaching, full-time kid raising, and full-time being a minister's wife. I would have to say that the last year of waiting was probably the nearest I got to pulling my hair out, sitting on pins and needles, chewing my nails to the quick, being totally driven to distraction. Perhaps if it had been fewer than eighteen years, I may have been able to eliminate a few of those cliches!
But I write this to ENCOURAGE all writers out there. If I can wait eighteen years you can stay the course, whatever your course may be, and all the while keep believing in your work.