Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Transparent Is OUT. I am PUBLISHED.

Of course I had to do a special drawing for the occasion! This is Fiona's view of the Taco Bell scene, which is one of my favorites in the book. There is also another special art piece up at Beth Revis' blog! Check it out.


So. My book is out now.

Actually, I'm writing this ahead of time, which makes it hard to know exactly how I'll feel when I wake up on May 21st knowing that TRANSPARENT will hopefully be stocked in stores, that pre-orders will be shipped and the buy buttons online will work. The thought right now is...surreal.

I know, I've had over two years to internalize the idea that I actually sold a book and it's actually going to be purchasable and maybe even people will BUY it and READ it. But part of it still doesn't feel real. Even now, as the day is upon me. I keep waiting for it to feel real—I'm starting to wonder if that might never happen. Maybe it will always feel like a dream, fragile and impossible and just out of reach. Or maybe it'll eventually sink in, that this thing I've been working towards for the last 8 years has finally happened.

Eight years, guys. Pretty much the entirety of my twenties. I remember when I was entering my last year of college at the ripe old age of 21, married and pregnant because that's how Mormons roll, dude. I was finishing my last classes for my degree in English linguistics and my minor in editing. The fact that I was almost done hit me right in the face.

What now?

That question kept coming back over and over. School was all I'd known, and now not only was I going to be a new mom but I would be someone that didn't have to go to class and take tests and what was life outside that? Even my campus job would have to be abandoned, since I was graduating. And I loved working at that magazine like whoa.

I would soon have a degree and a baby and a new life ahead of me. All those plans and goals I'd worked towards were suddenly on the verge of being accomplished. What now? What comes after the "happily ever after"?

I had no idea.

So I did what any over-acheiver does when they've completed their list of goals—I made another list. It was a very grown up list that I certainly didn't feel ready for, but I made it anyway because I'm not the kind of person who can function without a clear direction. It went something like this:

• Learn 3 languages (I was an English linguistics major, after all)
• Travel to Japan and New Zealand at least once (Someday. Some. Day.)
• Buy a house (Again: Some. Day.)
• Write 6 novels before I die
• Publish at least 1 novel

That was it. Not a long list, right? I was both surprised and scared about how short it was at first. And more than that, I felt...ashamed, almost, that writing had 2/5ths of the list despite my best efforts to pretend I didn't want to write a book. (Apparently I wanted to write 6. Ha. I don't know why I picked 6. I hate even numbers, ugh.) I'd tried to be practical about writing. I knew it wasn't something easy to actually do as a career. And yet when I was being honest with myself that was all I ever wanted to do—I just didn't have the courage to do it.

Well, I was a poor college student, so I couldn't buy a house or travel. I was already learning French, so I figured I was good there. Which kind of left the whole writing thing as the goal I could actively pursue.

I started writing an old idea from my high school days. I called this "actively pursuing" though I wrote when I felt like it and didn't really tell people I was writing. It was just for fun. Back then I was okay with that.

I don't want to get too long here, so I'll skip the year and a half it took to write that book and my first attempts at querying. Let's just say after my first 5 rejections I was about to wuss out on the whole venture—I was sure I wasn't cut out for publishing. I would write as a hobby and read and live my life happy with that. Eventually I'd get to my 6 written books and my kids would read them when I was dead and that was more than enough.

Then came one of those tiny moments that turn out to be big moments. Turning points, if you will. I was at Barnes & Noble buying books. Once I'd gotten my stack, I perused the notebook section because I'm a notebook junkie and that's what we do. A gold bookmark with orange lettering caught my eye (I do love me some orange.). It simply said:

"Go confidently in the directions of your dreams!" —Henry David Thoreau

This one little line turned my world upside down. Here I was about to give up before I'd even really started. Why? Because I wasn't confident I could do it. I was never a confident person by nature. Doubt still plagues me daily. The idea of striding towards my dreams with my head held high—exclamation point and everything—blew my mind. Was that even possible? Was that how people got what they wanted? Maybe I was doing things wrong. Maybe I needed to believe in myself more.

Yes, all this from one little bookmark. Which I bought and then promptly lost. Of course.

But I never forgot that quote. I put it by my computer. Then on my blog when I made one. My mom has even made an art quilt with those words on it just for me. (Because she's awesome like that.)

So I decided to keep trying, even though writing and putting myself out there to get hurt was the hardest thing I ever did in my life.

It did not go well. For a long time.

I have over 200 rejections logged over 4 separate projects. I spent years in the query trenches trying to figure out what the crap I was doing wrong (Answer: my writing sucked and I had a lot to learn.). I wrote 8 books over the space of about 2 years (DO NOT do that. Bad, bad idea.). I spent 9 months editing that book #8 for an agent before he offered representation, only the have that book not sell to a single editor over the space of 15 months.

Go confidently? Ha. By the time I'd gone through all that, I had no idea what confidence even looked like anymore.

But hey, I did write those 6 books I wanted to write before I died! Didn't have anything else on that short list, but 1 out of 5 wasn't so bad.

By the time I went on submission to editors with TRANSPARENT (my 10th novel), I had one foot out the publishing door. This was it, because I couldn't keep doing this to myself, I thought. The supposed pay off was fast losing to the emotional anguish. I was tired. Beat. Done. If this book failed, I figured I could walk away knowing I gave it a good honest effort. I started when I was 21—and I was 27 when TRANSPARENT when out. I'd spent enough of my life trying for this goal. More than my time in college. The entirety of my marriage and children's lives.

Then it sold. And I had to wait two more years for it to come out. So I had a baby because why not? Now the day is here—the day I get to cross off that silly goal I made 8 freaking years ago.

Publish at least 1 novel

Wow. I had no idea how long it would take me to do that, or if I even would. And I even have another book coming out next year. Though I've been through the wringer to get here, I did it. TRANSPARENT may not be a huge book, but it's the culmination of almost a decade of my life dedicated to one seemingly-impossible goal.

I will never claim to be a great writer. I'm not sure I have any natural talent for it. But I did work my butt off to become good at it. My hard knocks taught me. And I suppose that idea of "Going confidently" never left me, because there were many times I should have given up and didn't. Perhaps deep down inside, I really did believe all along that I could make it happen. And it did. Not at all in the way I imagined it would. But it did.

Today I'm going to be proud of all my bumps and bruises, because I am officially a published author. Thanks to everyone who's been there for me along this bumpy road—I wouldn't have gotten here without your support.

What now? Well, I guess it's time to travel and learn some new languages.

49 comments:

  1. Extara, extra brilliant!

    Congratulations!

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  2. Thank you for sharing, good luck, and enjoy the day!

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  3. Happy Release Day! So excited for you. Enjoy your special day.

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  4. Happy Release Day!

    It's been a long journey and I'm grateful that you shared a lot of it here on your blog. You may never know how you've touched readers by writing about your ups and downs in pursuit of publication, but I guarantee it's a large number. Thank you, and enjoy every moment of this special day. You deserve it! Congrats!

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  5. I've been a long time lurker on your blog, but I wanted to finally say CONGRATULATIONS! I am SO happy for you and I can't wait to read Transparent! Your honesty and openness in sharing your journey has been such an inspiration, and I can safely say I'm still plugging away because of some of your posts.

    I hope you enjoy every moment of today! You totally deserve it!!

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  6. This is such an inspirational post! Thank you for sharing it. Happy book birthday—you deserve it!

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  7. Congratulations, Natalie. I've read your blog for YEARS and it is so great to be here with you at this moment! Wish I could come in person to your signing tonight, but I will be there in spirit!

    xo-

    Shelley

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  8. Congrats and happy release day!

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  9. What a great story. Huge congrats on your book release. I'm so excited for you!

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  10. this made me all teary in the best way :D

    YAY NEVER GIVING UP!!! i'm SO proud of you, lady!!

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  11. Your story is so inspirational. Congratulations on your book release! I'm looking forward to reading it!

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  12. I have been following you for a while and reading about your journey, and I'm just so so happy for you. I'm all teary! sniff sniff! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

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  13. You're amazing, Natalie. And so inspirational to me. I love that Thoreau quote. That needs to go by my computer, too. I wish you the happiest of book birthdays!

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  14. Congratulations and happy book birthday, Natalie!!

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  15. I love your blog. And you. And your book. Thank you for not giving up on your dream and for letting the rest of us come along for the ride!

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  16. YAY! A huge congrats to you, Natalie! You so deserve this. And you absolutely HAVE to go to New Zealand. It's mind-blowingly beautiful. I can't wait to read TRANSPARENT!

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  17. I'm so very happy for you, there aren't even words!!! HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY and making your goal a reality day!!! :D

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  18. So glad you kept pushing forward. TRANSPARENT is amazing. It spoke directly to the teenager in me, the girl who spent her adolescence FEELING invisible. It will resound with others, and you will have the dizzying experience of realizing that you have reached people. That your work has meant something not just to you (but yes, so much that), but to countless others. I've met you just the once, and I've only read one of your stories, but I already know you're fabulous. Go confidently. You deserve to.

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  19. Happy Book Birthday! Enjoy every hard-earned second of it. x

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  20. Congratulations!!!

    It sounds like time to knock off a few more goals from that list--and perhaps add a few more to it too. :)

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  21. So excited for you, Natalie! I just can't stop smiling! :) Hooray for you and TRANSPARENT!!

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  22. I'm going to go buy it on my nook this minute!

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  23. Congratulations! I love your blog, so excited to read Transparent.

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  24. Congratulations Natalie! It's wonderful that all that hard--and painful--work paid off, and that you stuck with it. I love the quote by Thoreau!

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  25. Happy Book Birthday! Thank you so much for your inspiring posts and honesty. It really helps us struggling writers out there. Transparent is now at the top of my TBR pile :)

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  26. Happy Book Birthday! Congratulations! Love the story of your journey. Now, check off more of those items on the list. Japan is an amazing country and should not be missed. :D

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  27. Awww, I'm getting all misty-eyed, Natalie. You know how happy I am for you. I wish wish WISH i could be there in Utah today to take you out to lunch. I'd also buy you a big Code Red. :)

    Have an amazing time at your launch! I expect a lengthy blog post or FB post, chock-full of pictures!

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  28. Congratulations! I've been reading your blog for years, and watching you persevere through your ups and downs helped me with my own writing journey. I knew that if you could make it through the rejections and hell of sub, then I could, too. I can't wait to read TRANSPARENT!

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  29. Congrats! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I'm often ashamed of my dream of being a writer and discouraged by my many rejections. You've inspired me to keep going.

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  30. Happy Release Day! So proud of you! And I'm waiting for my copy of TRANSPARENT to arrive!

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  31. Congratulations! More success to you on your journey. Can't wait to read your book.

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  32. Congratulations, and know that the reason you got book 10 published is because you wrote the other nine. You've done your apprenticeship now, and can work at an easier pace with more confidence. The difference between writers who aspire to be published and those that do isn't just storytelling talent (though that is essential, clearly you have it!) but the guts to write, learn from your mistakes, write some more. I'm so happy for you.

    My own publication date (in Oct) seems completely unreal, I'm slightly spooked that publication didn't make it seem any more real!

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  33. Congratulations on reaching a very important goal- this is inspiring to me (and to other newbie writers too)! I'm looking forward to reading Transparent : )

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  34. Hugs.

    I hope you're savoring this day. Hold that book and know that nobody can take this away from you. :-)

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  35. The burrito scene is one of my favorites but I really liked her dream too. I love the art--here and at Beth's place. Congratulations, Natalie!

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  36. A HUGE congrats!!! I'm going to buy your book tomorrow, can't wait til I get to hold it. I'm very curious about this Taco Bell scene...

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  37. Congratulations on release day! I just bought your book, and I can't wait to read it!

    I've been following your blog since last summer (though I don't comment super frequently), and I love reading your honest and open posts about your journey. Thank you for sharing your writing life with us!

    --Christi

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  38. Been reading your blog for quite awhile, so this is obviously a super happy day for you, congrats!

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  39. *hugs*
    The art is SOOO pretty! And I love anime too! :)

    I internally died at the "married and pregnant because that's how Mormons roll, dude" bit. SO. TRUE. Kinda scares me thinking about how the Laurels in my ward that just graduated will be marrying and having kids in a few years...

    HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!!! I've been really excited for TRANSPARENT for a few months now and... well... here's release day. :D

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  40. A huge HUGE congrats for the release of Transparent!! !! !!!! And thanks for writing this post. My dream is to be published and so far the journey sucks. Everywhere I go it feels authors say, "And then after 3 months of querying I signed with Dream Agent!" I sit here thinking, what am I doing wrong?? So your story really encouraged me. Thaaaaanks. XD I'm really REALLY glad you didn't give up on your dream. WOOT!!

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  41. Thank you for your stelliferous tale of perseverance! I look forward to reading your book.

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  42. Congratulations! I can't WAIT to read Transparent...!

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  44. Congratulations, Natalie!!! I've followed your blog long enough to know how much you've worked to get to this day. I hope you savor the fruits of your hard work and give yourself lots of pats on the back for getting to this point.

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