Disclosure: this may get a little bit sappy.
I sold my first novel last week. I think that's honestly the first time I've written that sentence in lower-case letters since it happened, but I've been told the caps lock on my emails is getting to be a bit wearing. It's wonderful and incredible and more than a little difficult to believe. The truth is, though, that it hasn't been all kittens and fairy dust. There have been some curveballs along the way, too. Things I didn't expect. Which is why I thought it might not be a bad idea to share what selling a book is really like, in non movie-montage fashion. I'm myth de-bunking. My top four myths, to be precise. This isn't a particularly technical breakdown, but more an overall emotional assessment. For many writers, selling a book is the ultimate dream. What happens when it comes true? See below.
1) Rainbows will appear in the sky.
It's winter in New York so, yea, no rainbows. It was actually pouring rain the day we accepted the offer, which was fine, because the majority of what being on submission involves is staying in your bedroom in pajamas staring at your blackberry screensaver. It's not glamorous. Writing is probably the least glamorous profession there is. This doesn't change when you become an author.
2) You'll be absolutely over- the- moon happy.
This one isn't false, but happy isn't the one word I'd use to describe how I feel. People keep asking me if I am thrilled but the thing I feel more than anything, is relief. I get to do this now. I get to start here. It's real. I think that's the thing writers forget to talk about. It's exciting to have a dream come true, sure, but it's absolutely, incomparably relieving to actually get to live it. Those nights I stayed in and didn't get drinks? Worth it. The times I felt ridiculous saying I had to "do work?" Totally validated.
3) You'll get that magic phone call.
My agent joked with me last week that she never has to worry about being able to reach me. "You answer on the first ring!" she said. Literally, I could be on a plane to Indonesia and I'd figure out some way to answer her call.
But there were a lot of them. Phone calls and emails and even a few text messages. You need some stamina (and patience) to get through selling a book. It takes a while.
4) Everything changes.
A friend of mine who sold her first novel last year told me that selling a book changes a lot, but not everything. "You'll still have bad hair days," she said, "and the people who don't love you still won't."
I didn't really understand what she meant until I found myself, directly after the sale, suddenly drawn backwards. There's this sense of completion when you sell a book. Something a long the lines of: I've done it, I got there, I should be able to go back and claim that thing I couldn't have.
It's curious what lurks behind personal success. I thought this was just about the book, it's not. The hard, cold truth is that old loves won't suddenly confess their undying devotion to you and friendships that have fallen apart won't be magically put back together. Because the reason things didn't work out had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn't a published author. Not even at all.
But the way you see yourself changes. I don't have to mumble something under my breath when someone asks me what I do anymore. I can just say, definitively, "I'm an author." And the best part? That's not a myth. That's just the truth.