Going the distance with a passion requires more than ironclad resolve. It requires ignorance and fearlessness, in equal parts. Too much information can paralyze a person and leave her at the starting gate. If I knew then what I know now sort of thing I might not have… <insert your ‘not have’>.
In my case, I would insert written a book after not have. It’s not the writing I wouldn’t have done. Writing is who I am. I will continue to write even if my hands and fingers wither with age. There isn’t a choice for me, for others there are options, but in my case, I am mated for life with pen and pad. If I had known about the non-writing aspects of being an author back at the start, I don’t know if I’d be here now. I was out there with Ray Kinsella building my own Field of Dreams-write it and they will come.
If I knew how much work was involved in finding an agent (entire publishing process) blogging, tweeting, and Facebook-ing (social media circus) and self marketing (Look at me, I’m special), I’m not entirely certain I would have ever started down the path of being a novelist. Now, having one complete novel under my belt, a second one nearly complete, and a third with the first chapter written, it’s too late to turn back. For me there is only forward.
Even though I am in writer’s hell—agent query coaster—I don’t regret my ignorance. Back at page one, line one, draft 1.0, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and was damn happy. I had never received an email that went like this
“Not for us, thanks.”
“Dear Author” (not even my name)
“Thanks, but no thanks.”
The first rejection letter left me motionless in my mind. There was no activity inside expect for breathing, which I assume was running via a back up generator. I was among the living but I as not with them. I sat inside of my mental writer’s room for what felt like days too numb to move. The words from the first Dear No-Name Author letter burned on the back of my retinas, always readable, day, night, eyes open or closed. After what felt like a lifetime, I finally confessed to a close friend I had received my first rejection letter. Of course, being a dramatic Latina and a fragile writer I had to choke the words out over a glass of wine. I felt a failure.
I remember asking him how does a person fail at having a passion. Up until that moment, I never once considered failure. I built my field of dreams on four hundred fifty neatly manicured pages that had undergone multiple revisions, changed tenses, survived numerous edits, several by my hand and two hefty edits by another (side note to all novelists – when you’re ready, find someone else to do the final edits, someone who you click with, trust, and whom you pay.)
My friend told me after I dabbed my eyes and swallowed the rest of the wine that one day soon this part of the process would just be another story. He was right, of course, but it would take a few more rejections before I found my inner moxie to write about it without sounding like the virgin novelist that I am. The truth is I am walking over new ground. With every step forward, I leave behind a footprint, reminding me how far I have traveled from the first page, the first line, the first draft, to THE END, and finally, to ‘Dear Author’.
My resolve remains ironclad and steadfast. It’s too damn late for me to turn back now, and honestly, I don’t know if I would even if I could. I remain, ignorant and fearless, in equal parts. I keep my gaze forward but that doesn’t stop me from looking back over the steps I’ve walked. If not for the road I travelled, I’d not be here now.
How about you, what does your Field of Dreams look like?
Post Script: A full and a partial of my manuscript is out with a couple of agents.
Am I happy? Cautiously, so.
What’s Next? No idea until I take another step forward.
Do I regret writing the novel knowing what I know now? Hell no. How can I regret doing something this big and that opened a brave new world to me. I’m loving in, every moment.