Going to college is exciting and new and fun. It's also scary and different and never just as you expect it to be. And that's true no matter what college you go to, no matter how big or small, how prestigious, whatever. In a lot of ways, it's like starting all over again.
Selling a book, it's like I went from a senior in high school to a freshman in college. I'm a newb again. I was comfortable in my old school, over about four years I worked my way "to the top," you could say. Now? So at the bottom. Not in a bad way, just in a "Whoa, so I still have a lot to learn about this publishing thing" way.
I look at the seniors and wonder how I'm ever gonna get there. They seem so cool and chill and experienced, and I feel like I'm fumbling and awkward. Even though I researched college and prepared and packed and went to orientation, it's not the same as experiencing college.
I feel like I've been sitting in a whole set of new classes—Editing For An Editor 101, Contracts 101, Self-Employment Taxes 101. I'm freaking out over my grades, wondering if my professors like me, and all that fun stuff. And then there's the whole making friends thing, learning the line between getting to know people and trying too hard, between "getting your name out there" and pummeling people with your name, between good marketing and marketing that turns people off. There are so many new rules, and I still feel like a fish out of water.
Then comes the whole emotional side. Some things are super exciting, for sure. Like when you DO make new friends or when your editor says she loves your revision. I still can't wait for the moment I get to see my cover. There are so many highs in the growing process, but that doesn't mean there aren't lows, too. I remember feeling like I wasn't anything special when I went to college and saw all these people who were SO talented and hard working and experienced. I feel that way a lot these days, too, wondering how I fit in publishing, marveling at how I even got in when there are so many people brimming with talent. I feel lucky and undeserving all at once.
In the end, I am happy that I ended up in this college, and the lessons I've learned as I approach my first year post-book deal have been rewarding and lots of work. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I can handle it as long as I focus on what matters most.
I really did gain the Freshman Fifteen again, though. So not cool.