Surprises on the Journey to Publication

First, some truths as the groundwork:

* I love being a writer.  Sometimes I feel that I have no choice– I simply must write– but even if I did have the choice, I’d want to be a writer.

* I have an amazing agent and the sweetest, loveliest, most brilliant editor ever, and I feel like I won the jackpot.

* My contract is with HarperCollins, the publishing house of my dreams, the publishing home of C.S. Lewis and Melina Marchetta.  I am utterly humbled and full of deep gratitude.

writerAnd now, some things that are surprising me on my journey toward publication:

* It’s still really hard.  I think I’ve been laboring under the idea that the hard part was getting the book deal, and after that, smooth sailing.  Nope.  My edits come fast and furious, and I don’t think I’ve ever been stretched as much as a writer as I have been since I got my book deal.

* My skin is not as thick as I thought it was.  I’ve prided myself on being a writer with a pretty thick skin– I welcome criticism and can (usually) take it in stride.  I’m learning that maybe I’m more tender than I imagined.

* I have a lot of self-doubt. I once thought that getting a book deal would be like an eternal validation stamp: OFFICIAL WRITER.  I would be someone who Knows What I Am Doing.  Nope.  If anything, I feel even more doubt than ever.

* It’s a true partnership.  I was ready to take orders from my editor– aye, aye, captain, that sort of thing– but she asks more questions than she gives answers.  She raises the questions and then lets me answer them in my own way in what I write.  There’s more freedom than I imagined, and she is a great listener.

* One last thing: it took a long time to finalize the deal. It was offered in November, and I signed my contract in February.

I know that some of you blog readers are on your own writing journeys and are interested to hear how mine goes, so I thought I’d share these things with you.  Now I want to hear from you: what expectations do you have for after you get that first book contract?  Were any of my surprises also surprises to you?


Image credit: Laura Makabresku