Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding The Happy Things & Waxing Nostalgic

I like to keep things real on the blog, but this weekend, as a friend struggled with the difficulties and reality of publishing, I wondered a bit if I sometimes focus too much on the rough road of being an author. Am I turning into a downer? Am I getting overly jaded? Perhaps I've gone from realistic to plain old curmudgeon.

That makes me a little sad.

I want to try and rectify this. Not to say that I can stop being realistic and honest, because that's where I feel comfortable, but I want to find a better balance for myself. I want to point out more good, despite the difficulties. I want to find the happy things.

So today I want to talk about the fact that it's been a YEAR since TRANSPARENT debuted! That's crazy. It's feels both so much longer and shorter than that. Time is a weird thing when you get into publishing. Years become these really short things, when they used to feel like lifetimes.

Signing my very first book contract, in 2011. (Dang, I was skinny
back then! My love of cupcakes has betrayed me.)
I remember the day I got my contract for TRANSPARENT like I remember most other big, good days in my life—I recall more of the feelings than the details. It didn't feel entirely real, signing a few papers that claimed I'd be a published author in 2013 (two years later). After a long time in the query and submission trenches, it's just hard to grasp that you've finally reached that one goal.

You feel a bit afloat, both giddy and terrified because now what? Well, lots of waiting. Of course. But also all the cool things you dreamed of—getting that first edit letter, seeing cover comps, receiving ARCs in the mail, your first advance check, your first trade review. Those parts? They are all as awesome as it seems.

I was always struck, in those two years I waited for TRANSPARENT to be a book, how unreal it all still felt. I kept wanting it to feel real, but now I think the surreal aspect was amazing. It was the dream. I was living a dream. There were all these gritty reality bits, too, but those unreal moments were like pristine vistas along a difficult hike. They were meant to be savored, and I tried to do just that. I think I've learned in these last few years to savor the good bits as much as possible—they carry you through the other stuff.

Debut of TRANSPARENT, May 21, 2013. (Me and my crazy
awesome sisters at my launch party.)
The day TRANSPARENT came out…I remember feeling like I might throw up at any minute. It's part of having anxiety, I suppose, and also because dreams and reality were all crashing together and now I had to actually BE the thing I wanted to be (an author) instead of pretending at it. Here I'd been waiting so long to be this thing, and suddenly it felt like I could never actually be ready for it.

I wasn't.

Debuting is a lot like being a first time mom—you just can't know all the things you need to know. So much of the knowing comes in doing. But at the same time it was wonderful and awesome and I feel like, even four books and a year later, that I'm still growing into my new role. I'm still learning to claim it. But there's one thing I do know:

I'm proud of myself.

Because I'm not the kind of person who likes to toot my own horn, that is hard for me to say in public. But it remains true and I feel like it's just as important to say I AM PROUD OF WHAT I'VE DONE as it is to say that I'm not perfect and that I struggle with stuff. Writers are constantly pushing to improve, but it does make me sad to see writer friends become almost ashamed of their past achievements, as if they weren't good enough. It's my goal to not do that—to be proud of my work even if I also want to improve.

So today, a year after my nerve wracking debut, I'm going to be proud. I did what I set out to do. Maybe it didn't all go according to plan and I'm not some massive bestseller, but I have four books out in the world. When I first signed my contract, I thought I'd only have two out after a year. Having twice as many is pretty awesome.



11 comments:

  1. You SHOULD be proud, Natalie! I'm proud of you too. And so happy to think how far you've come and how much you've accomplished in such a short time. :)

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  2. This post makes me very, very happy. Because seriously, I'm a jaded curmudgeons at times too. Okay, most of the time. It takes a lot of effort not to be at this point, but I have to admit you help me out a lot with that, and I have to say thank you for that. If it weren't for your help a few days ago, I'd probably be back on my bathroom floor filling up my bathtub with my pathetic tears. So, yeah, you rock, and this post clearly shows why. :)

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  3. You are awesome Natalie, and you have a ton to be proud of! Yay for "living the dream!"

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  4. That last pic makes me giggle. love it.

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  5. That's great! Stay proud, Natalie! :D

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  6. Love this post! Thanks for sharing the happy moments!

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  7. So I'm apparently becoming one of those comment-on-every-post-creepy-stalker types. ;) But I loved this. I have always appreciated that you keep it real in terms of publishing AND life, because that's how I prefer to do it too. The real rough world of publishing is why I haven't tried to put my novels out into the world before the last year or two - until the itch got too strong to ignore. I think so many people go into it without realizing the harder side of things, and I appreciate the honesty of your experiences.

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  8. You have good reason to be proud!

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  9. I, too, am betrayed by all my fav foods! Tho I'm sure it has nothing to do w/the fact that they're all in the sugary/fatty/delicious category... ;) Love that you're proud of everything you've accomplished in just one short year- it's awesome, and you should be!

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  10. I think you've been saying this all along though right? And there's some who are shamefully nontransparent and they're special in the pittiful kind of way as they are cowardly, what YOU are refering to will be dreadful oh I can't stand the thought :/

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