The two novels I wrote while teaching high school English (2014 and 2017) are still just sitting in the queue. One was about a son’s crime covered up by his mother; the investigator was a female detective. My second novel was magical realism – twin witches in 4th Century Scotland facing a brutal patriarchy. Total girl power stuff.
I love my books. I loved writing them. I loved the beta readers I enlisted to read them. I loved the creative process and the language and the plot challenges. I loved the stories, and I loved what happened to me while I wrote them. I felt incredibly alive!
Then came the hard part. The daunting and mysterious road to publication.
You see, I was proud. And that pride told me that in no way was I ever going to self-publish. Independent publishing was for people who already gave up. I was hell-bent on the superior prestige of a known traditional publisher finding me and serving me a contract, where I could reap the rewards of fame, wealth, and the freedom to write even more for my fans.
But that never happened.
After months of paying due diligence, seeking a literary agent through continuous hours of research, tweaking my cover letters and formatting to meet the submission standards, not to mention the technology curve and predictable rejection, my six months of feverish correspondence came to a bitter face plant. I was burned out, my ego deflated, my spirit flat. I humbly turned to other ventures, occasional freelancing small snippets of thought, largely surrendering to other pursuits.
It was a sad time. My books were my literary babies, and they didn’t make the hockey team. So they settled for scrapping around at the neighborhood ice rink, unnoticed and hungry.
I watched some people I knew find an agent and score publishing deals. They were gods and I was mortal.
I watched one friend self-publish and actually get picked up by a recruiting agent. What? She now has two books under that publisher. Huh.
My books were not perfect. But then I have seen a lot of inferior books sell for millions.
I recall when Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were Indie heroes, having made the indie hit film Good Will Hunting for a song and never looking back.
My writing is even better now. Ever since I started calling myself a writer back in 2014, it has slowly improved with substantial practice. Maybe I could improve the books I wrote. Maybe they are already great!?
Maybe I will head down to that local rink and have a little chat with the kids.