Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Long Strange Trip

In the Great Office Clean-out I came across a few packets of letters and printed e-mails and sat down to read them.

The first stack contained all the congratulatory notes I received from friends and colleagues when I got my first contract for Layover. They were a gas to read, I got choked up reliving the excitement, all the "we knew you'd do it"s and "no one deserves this more"s. Hearty backslaps from everyone whose shoulders I'd whined on for five years.

At the bottom of the stack was the letter from Bree, my editor, welcoming me to Ellora's Cave - that momentous email that'd come at the end of the night, right before I shut the computer down.

The next packet were notes of support I'd gotten over the years from fellow aspiring authors as well as published ones. Authors who'd read snippets of my stuff, or seen a few pages in a contest or critique, or read a Jenny Crusie book and wrote specifically to tell me my unique writing voice was reminiscent of her earlier stuff (Shannon, that was you!). There was a note from Kate Walker, who honored my alter ego The Bat Dame by putting her in a book. And several from Valerie Parv, who told me the first unpublished chapter of Coffee, Tea or Lea? really "sang" and was head and shoulders better than anything else of mine she'd ever read. I had notes from people I didn't even know telling me something they'd seen of mine was memorable, that they wanted to kill me for being able to write like that *gg*.

Those letters were what kept me going when I was ready to give up.

Then I got to the last pile. A thick envelope stuffed with rejections, revision letters and old queries and drafts that made me cringe. I read them all anyway and they catapulted me back in time to those desperate, trying, work-a-holic days. I had notes on what publishers were currently looking for, how to craft a scene, calls for submissions, announcements that all the Harlequin lines I targeted were closing...I think I knew more about the biz then than I do now!

I'm so glad I saved all those things, the paper trail of a long journey that ended successfully. But what stands out most is the encouragement from friends -- like little oases in the desolation.

Man, what a long, strange trip it's been. What about you? Did you keep a paper trail of any journey you've taken? Have you revisited the places you were and the people you met lately? What did you find?


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