It's a startling thing, to receive something you have long anticipated, yet never really expected.
I received my publishing contract today. For my first novel. A piece of work written, roughly, over the course of 10 years, though granted not full time. Life gets in the way. I started the novel in the summer of 1995. I started it because I got tired of reading bad lesbian fiction (though in truth, I'd only read three books, but that was enough). I wanted to write what I wanted to read. My first attempt (9 pages) was so poor I had to laugh...and then tear it up and start over again. The next attempt was true, more true to my idea, my vision, of what I wanted to ultimately present.
It wasn't easy.
I write from a hugely emotional place. Nothing is trite. My life, my experiences, my feelings, are not trite. They carry weight. I've heard a few comments about how long it took me to write that book. From people who don't write. I shrug those off. Granted, there was a very long time period from when I wrote the first 14 chapters, to when I completed the rest of the novel. As I said, life gets in the way. But until you have done what I, and other writers, have, I caution you to keep your negative, disparaging comments to yourself. It may have taken me a good portion of time to write this book, but it was time well spent.
And now, today, I have signed a publishing contract. This is an astonishing thing. Astonishing. More so because I had previously turned down one publisher (five years ago), and been dismissed by another (less than a year ago). I'm not an easy egg to crack. In fact, if you were to ask anyone who knows me well, I'm very difficult to crack indeed. I have a very clear vision of who I am, what I want, and where I'm going. My thought, my belief, has always been, I will get there eventually.
I'm very proud of my first novel. I'm very proud of myself. Of my commitment. My belief. Writing from the emotional place that I do is very draining. Continuing to do so is a commitment to continual pain, and joy, and, ultimately, satisfaction. I'm okay with that. If I must bleed, and cry, rend myself, display myself openly for all and sundry to view, then I will do so with integrity and courage. I've never questioned it. I just do it. The whys, wherefores, and hows never cross my mind. I just do it.
I have now signed the contract. The contract that has my name, and the title of my book, in bold print. Bold print. My god. I will mail it tomorrow. And that, as they say, is that. But it's more than that. It will always be more than that.
And a part of me is scared to death of all that that entails.