I started this blog one year ago. When I look back, it seems like both yesterday and forever ago. At points during the year, time was flying by so fast that I was tripping over myself trying to keep up. At other points, time moved so slowly I could count the individual grains of sand as they slid through my fingers.
A year ago, I had no agent and no editor and no clue that FIRSTS would become anything other than a Word document in my computer. I had an ancient MacBook computer that took forever to start up and I wrote wherever I could because I didn’t have my own office in our apartment. I had moments of doubt so heavy that I wondered if I was cut out for the writing industry at all.
But I also had hope, and I underestimated how strong of a force that was.
Hope translated into a lot of things. Hope made me believe in my work. Hope made me hit “Send” and submit my first (no pun intended) YA manuscript into a contest called Pitch Wars that would change my life and open me up to a whole new amazing community of writers. Hope allowed me to query my now-agent, Kathleen. Hope buoyed me through the submission process, bobbing at times right alongside uncertainty and disappointment, but never sinking to the bottom. Hope was right there when I got the call that FIRSTS was going to be published, jumping up and down with me.
If I could go back and tell me a year ago that so many incredible things were in store, that 2014 would be the year my dreams came true, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Not because I didn’t want to, but because it would hurt too much if the prediction was wrong. Sometimes hope hurts like that. Sometimes no matter how badly we want to be optimistic, we’re afraid to be, because it’s easier to expect the worst.
I wanted FIRSTS to be “the one.”
But I was prepared for it not to be.
I was learning from past mistakes. I worked on new manuscripts while querying, because I knew that took the sting away from rejections. I knew that the fresh words of a new story acted as the only kind of armor that could keep the negative words from populating in my head. This isn’t saleable. It’s too edgy. It’s too out there. Maybe this just wasn’t meant to be. The new words gave me the strength to stop caring about perception and write the story I wanted to write.
The other thing I did right in 2014? I had fun with writing. I tried new things. I tried different styles and perspectives. I experimented with random ideas and Googled some things for research that have probably put me on a few Internet watch lists. I let myself have days where I wrote nothing but garbage, because garbage was what I needed to write that day.
When I wrote my first ever blog post detailing my goals for 2014, I hoped I would someday be in the position I’m in now. But I was also learning to be happy with the stage I was at, which I think is the most important thing in this industry. There will always be somebody out there who has something you don’t have, or who is farther along on the journey than you. But nobody has what you do have. Nobody but you has your imagination or your ideas or your style. And once you give yourself permission to be proud of that, you recognize yourself for who you are. A writer.
Things look a lot different going into 2015. I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at in my path to publication. I have the best, most supportive agent. I have an amazingly talented and thoughtful editor who believes in me. I get to be part of the wonderful, supportive kidlit community, along with the lovely and talented Sweet Sixteens. I have a computer that works and an office that inspires me and a few first drafts that I’m itching to revise. I feel so lucky and honored. But if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that I didn’t need all that to happen for me to become a writer. I was a writer all along.
I’m so excited by all the experiences coming my way and I know that the new year will bring both challenges and victories. As far as years go, 2014 will be hard to top.
But I think 2015 is up for the challenge.