Thursday, February 22, 2007
When it's all worthwhile
The other night, I got a message that made every painful step of my journey from frustrated wannabe writer to published author worth it.
My love affair with books started in childhood. As seems to be fairly common with writers and creative people of all kinds, I did not have an easy childhood. I was frequently lonely and frequently unhappy, and books were by far my best friends. They offered me a respite from the real world and took me away from my own troubles.
The love affair might have started in childhood, but it has persisted all through my adulthood. When I'm going through a difficult period in my life, it's reading that keeps me relatively sane, that helps me through.
As those of you who've read my blog since the beginning know, I was not what you'd call an "overnight success" in this field. I wrote for sixteen years trying to get published, coming oh-so-close and then falling just short. During those years of frustration, I often wondered what it was that kept me going. Why was I putting myself through this misery? (And any of you who are writers know exactly what kind of misery those rejections can cause.) Why did it mean so much to me not just to write, but to be published and have others read my books? I finally determined that a big part of what drove me was a desire to do for others what authors I've loved have done for me. A desire to make someone's life a little better even if it's just by lifting their spirits or giving them a pleasant diversion while they read a book.
Now back to the message that made it worthwhile. The other night, I received a message on MySpace from a reader battling a serious illness, and she told me: "You help make very bad days oh so much better."
I immediately broke out in happy sniffles. I thought my dream had come true on the day I held the published version of Watchers in the Night in my hot little hand. Or maybe it was the day I first saw Watchers in a bookstore. Or maybe the first time I got a fan letter from someone who wasn't a close friend or family member.
I was wrong. My dream came true on the night a reader reached out to me and told me that I'd given back to her what all the wonderful authors I've read have given to me for so many years. So yes, every one of those rejections was worth it. And if I had it all to do again, I wouldn't change a thing.