It’s that time again, you guys—that time when I wade out into a deep pool of gooey, soppy, sentimental thankfulness and wallow around in there for awhile. I hope you’re ready. Back up if you don’t want to get splashed.
At this time last year, I’d had my book deal for a whopping four weeks. I’d had an agent for three and a half months, and I was still learning to correspond with her without overthinking every word I wrote in every email. I’d just met my editor for the first time. I really had no idea what the rest of the publication process entailed, but I was out of my mind with joy and probably more thankful than I’d ever been in my life. I was READY.
Turns out publishing isn’t all sunshine and roses. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less thankful now than I was last year. I’m just thankful for different things.
I’ve learned a lot this year. How to process an edit letter without losing my mind. How to do pretty intense revisions under deadline. How to write a book under contract. How to deal with the endless, endless waiting and accept the fact that I’m not in charge, that I’m not going to be in the loop all the time. How copyediting makes every single word look wrong, including “the.” Publishing is HARD, you guys. Forcing yourself to write when you’re not feeling inspired is hard. Letting go of scenes you love is hard, even if they don’t actually serve your story. I’ve seen nearly all my writer friends have mini-breakdowns. Some of them have lost their editors or had their option books rejected. I’ve had mini-breakdowns myself. This is not an industry for the faint of heart.
But the thing I’m most grateful for—the thing that really shows me that I finally have the right job—is that none of this has made me feel jaded or any less hopeful than I was a year ago. Sure, this career path is going to be twisty and turny and stressful sometimes, and it’s going to throw a lot of things at me that I’m not expecting. But I’m finding that I’m totally okay with that. I love this stuff, even when it smacks me around and melts my brain. I always know I’ll get through it and come out the other side feeling like success is still a possibility. Even when it’s incredibly difficult, I’m so lucky to do what I do.
I’m grateful that I have so many people who CARE about my book all of a sudden. Before last year, writing was a solitary thing for me—my mom and sister and some of my friends read what I wrote, but that was it. And now I have a whole team of creative, diligent copyeditors and designers and marketing people at Delacorte working to bring my story to the world in shiny packaging. I probably won’t even ever meet most of those people, and it’s amazing to me that they care about my words even when they have no idea who I am. Plus, I have all of you—when I get emails and tweets from bloggers and readers telling me that they’re excited about my book, it baffles my mind. Strangers want to read stuff I made up. THANK YOU. You make my heart do happy cartwheels.
And most of all, I’m grateful for the writing community that has reached out to embrace me this year. Last month I went on a retreat with six other YA and middle grade writers, all of whom I consider good friends. It baffled my mind when I realized that I didn’t even KNOW five of those six people at this time last year. I’m so lucky to have critique partners who want to read my drafts in their spare time and help me make my stories better. I’m lucky that they let me read their incredible drafts and give my input. And I’m lucky that I always have other writers to turn to when the publishing process gets particularly weird or frustrating, people who GET IT, who CARE, who understand exactly where I’m coming from and how to help me through it. My doctor friends and consultant friends and actor friends are some of my favorite people in the world… but when you think you might go crazy because it’s not your house’s style to use the serial comma, you have to talk to another writer. And now I can.
Lastly, I am thankful for BOOKS. Reading other people’s stories is the only thing that’s guaranteed to cheer me up when I’m upset or make me feel understood when I’m lonely or lost. Thank you all for creating such beautiful, fascinating characters and worlds for me to read about. Keep doing it, please. I’m indebted to all of you.
Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy stuffing your faces with pie.
Jen Malone says
This post is exactly why we are friends. <3, <3, <3. Happy turkey day:)