I’ve had almost a month to sit with, fret over, and muddle through this time as my book has been up in the air. There’s been ample opportunity to read, write a few more Choose Your Own Adventure books with my boys, and take a little jaunt to South Carolina with my sister.
I’ve also had plenty of time to work through a number of blog posts that could have been written especially for me. Many of you have seen them by this point: Natalie’s post about the silent agony of fifteen months on submission, Beth and Michelle’s posts on comparisons, Jody’s about jealousy, Heidi’s on unfairness, and Bethany’s on the slow journey to publication.
And I’ve heard more: local author Kimberly Griffiths Little, who after publishing three books sold nothing for eight years. Mandy Hubbard’s years of rejection. An author whose publisher closed a month before her release date.
These past weeks have humbled me — not that I’d been strutting around in an I-have-a-book-deal! fashion before now (I hope). They’ve shown me how fortunate I’ve been to have a few people take the time to validate my work and teach me how to improve it; they’ve reminded me of the tumultuous nature of the publishing industry and the fickle taste of the market. I’ve had to come to the very real conclusion that my book might not be published next year alongside the people I’ve worked with and grown to love these past few months, that it realistically could be homeless for a long time. Or forever.
In the midst of the struggle, I was reminded by a 2k11 classmate about the theme of my book: surviving, overcoming, trying when you’re not sure of the outcome but pushing forward still. A little girl who doesn’t even exist has yet again displayed the dignity and courage I need to find. In a lot of ways, May Betterly, an unsure, unreal, old-fashioned child has taught me what it means to be brave. This doesn’t mean I haven’t sent frantic emails to my agent, my editor, my family and my friends. It means the creation of and response to story can speak to a reader well beyond a book’s end.
And an author maybe has as much to learn from her characters as her audience does.