In my former career, immediate action was the name of the game. I was always rushing to see the next patient, or quick stepping my way to the operating room. In my new journey as a fiction writer, the polar opposite is firmly rooted in my routine. “No thanks” turned into “send me the first ten pages” with full manuscript requests in recent months. Time is no longer measured in seconds; the stopwatch has been replaced with the calendar. As a person who drank in the adrenalin it’s been a rough transition. Oh, I knew it would likely be this way, but that hasn’t made it easier to deal with these days. Like looking at an old family album, I can see the forward momentum if I just take the time to look back.
Just last week I received an ever-so-gentle note from an agent who, after I’d sent a query, then a partial and then a full, that they were convinced I would have success with the book but it wasn’t in their wheelhouse to promote. If I compare that to the initial responses when I first started this process, not what I’d deem enthusiasm of my work, that there’s been steady forward momentum. So, after my latest rejection, I started to let doubt back into my mind. It’s a dirty word that offers nothing other than self pity and defeat. I was starting to get a bit pissy with myself for feeling that way. Wallowing in my what now? state of mind, I received an unexpected phone call this week. The Zebulon Awards was happy to announce to me that my book DARK SPIRAL DOWN had made it to their final rounds and granted a third place finish! I was in a bit of shock, probably why my two sons were looking at me with concern on their faces. I heard myself talking on the phone but I’m not sure what was said. “We would love to have you at the conference and the awards banquet so that you can be recognized. Would you be able to make it?” that beautiful voice on the other end asked. “Wouldn’t miss it,” I remember saying. Doubt just took a groin punch. When was this conference?
With the passage of time, I’ve seen my work creep forward from immediate no-go, to full consideration, to what is now recognition in my very first contest. It isn’t just friends, family, editors and beta readers telling me they really like it, I now have industry professionals saying, “This is a good book. Keep at it.” Like so many other authors’ career starts I’ve read, just when it seemed like maybe I didn’t have what it takes to break into the market, a call comes along to remind me that my instincts on what I can accomplish were not misplaced.
With a renewed sense of purpose and confidence, I’ll be making the trek to Colorado Springs with the hope of meeting my agent/partner in the near future. It’s the Pikes Peak Writers Conference’s 25th anniversary and one of my favorite authors, Tess Gerritsen, is the keynote speaker. Her start, transitioning from internal medicine to one of the most successful authors and television writers of the last 20+ years, has been much of the inspiration that started me in my own career transition. Her’s began after she entered a writing contest while on maternity leave from her practice. Here’s hoping that formula still works. I’m crossing my fingers for a chance to meet and thank Tess for that.
Here’s to continued progress in 2017. Here’s to never surrendering the dream.