These books represent twenty-five years of effort, sometimes writing in short 20 minutes segments, during lunch breaks, late at night when babies were sleeping and I had to get up at six for work the next morning, etc. For these books, I have dug floppy disks out of corporate trash dumpsters (long story); re-typed nearly 100,000 words due to computer crashes; spent hours and hours on research; endured rejection after rejection; cried; and labored, driven by my unflinching belief that it was important. That I had the soul of a writer, of a creative person who could never stop. That I would be forever emerged in what sometimes felt like a sick simultaneous trap and release scenario, and therefore, I had to show something for it.
Over the years, I’ve had four great literary agents and have received praise from editors, agents, and established authors such as Lisa See, Antwone Fisher, Anneli Rufus, Marya Hornbacher, Terri Cheney, and Joshilyn Jackson. The top fiction editors in the business have read my work. In more recent years, most accepted my work for review directly from me (rather than the usual requirement of having an agent) because they knew the quality of my work and wanted to read more. They knew me. Even an editor at The New Yorker said that I had a gift.
Yet, through it all, my work never found an established publisher for reasons such as … “too similar to another book I already have on my list”, “too character driven for our list, “due to the economy”, “can’t take on any more titles at the moment” … all prefaced by comments such as “you are a truly talented writer.” For years and years, my spirits rose and fell like your guts on a roller coaster. Although I struggled to stay positive, it took a toll; it broke my heart.
I needed a break, and I’d been having an odd urge to paint.
So in 2008, I picked up a paintbrush. I kept writing at that time, but by 2010, I set the writing aside to focus on art. Writing was my first love, the one that got away, that didn’t work out and left a scar. Art was my new love, the one that seemed to rescue and revive me. The one that made me see that what drove me creatively was still there. It was still alive and real and worth something. As Frida Kahlo said, “Art completed my life.” It matured me creatively and as a person.
While I was busy painting, the world changed. The publishing industry shifted in astonishing ways. The acceptance of electronic media skyrocketed despite economic downward trends left and right. Publishing houses collapsed, rebuilt, merged, etc. and today self-publishing doesn’t smack so much of giving-up-and-doing-it-yourself-because-it’s-crap-that-only-your-mom-will-love. Sure, I do want my mom to read my books, as well as my children and their children and their children, but I also want to let the world in, to share what I’ve spent years of my life laboring over. And now is the time; the stars have aligned.
For a while I felt that I was likely a better artist than writer, and perhaps that’s true. But for me, it no longer matters. Finally, I believe in what I’ve created enough to stand behind it and just say, “Here it is, accept it or not.” I’m ready to give it to the universe, to God, to whatever ‘powers that be’ you ascribe to. Sure, I’d like to benefit financially from my creative work. Sure, I’d love for one of the editors I know to call me, right now, and say they’re finally prepared to offer me a six-figure advance. But that’s not likely to happen and it’s okay for a variety of reasons. Now I know the missing phone call is not a reflection on the quality of my work, or of me as an individual.
Interestingly, although I’m not in it for riches, I’ve noted that for every book I sell myself, I make about 6 bucks, whereas if a publisher sells on my behalf (such as with my McGraw-Hill title) I make about a dollar. They can also choose their own title for my book if they feel like it (happened with McGraw-Hill), and do just about anything they want with it. Hummm …. enough said. Now, I have plans to get more of my existing writing into print (including ebook and audible format) while I continue painting, and yes, eventually, write a new novel when I’m ready.
I still have a lot to say.
In conclusion, I’ll admit that I do hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll take the time to read one or more of my books. I’d love for you to write an Amazon review and tell your friends about my work.
I wrote these books for you.