Or at least the moment I’ve been waiting for.
Disclaimer: These are the scrambled thoughts of a man who is simultaneously exhilarated and exhausted, triumphant and tired, dauntless and overwhelmed.
My writer’s group gathered last night around the incomparable Gail Martin for our monthly meeting to discuss publishing, marketing and other facets of this writing business. The talk surrounded such things as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Shelfari, Reddit, and others, but as always we started our gathering with announcements, and this month, boy did I have an announcement to make.
On 28 Feb 2014, Lisa Gus at Curiosity Quills Press contacted my agent, Stacey Donaghy, with an offer to publish The Mussorgsky Riddle. On 13 Mar 2014, we accepted her kind offer. It’s been a long haul, this hike from novice writer to not so novice writer, unagented to agented, unpublished to contracted with a publisher, and at every step, I’ve always repeated the same mantra.
Patience, Darin. Patience.
Don’t get me wrong. I am beyond thrilled and can’t wait to hold this book that took me over two years to complete in my hand, but having had a week for all of the excitement to sink in, I’ve thought a lot about the experience. I fully expected to sit down tonight and turn out a full-on Kool and the Gang, Celebrate Good Times blog post, but as I sit here and listen to the 80’s shuffle echoing from my AppleTV, I became a little nostalgic–I know… that never happens to me ;-)–and this is what came out.
I’ve read stories of all the “overnight” successes who have been working at their craft for years, and though I have done anything but “arrive,” I get it. I’ve been writing for almost exactly ten years now, having written the first word of Pawn’s Gambit as I sat in a MIG hangar in northern Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, back when I stared up at Mars and it’s baleful red eye every night and wondered about having the god of war look down on me as I stood on a battlefield. Since that time I’ve written two complete novels, am currently on the last chapter of a third, have written half of a fourth (the sequel to PG), written and published 19 short stories among six small publishers as well as a rare piece of fiction in Chess Life magazine, attended half a dozen writer’s conference, met countless authors through local, regional, and national writers groups, participated in (and ran for two years) a writers group with 500 members that critiques writers’ works twice per month, and led a successful small critique group out of my home for years. And all this with a full time job and still needing to sleep and eat occasionally. Oh, and watch The Walking Dead, of course.
The constant along the entire way and at every step: waiting.
Not all waiting is the same.
There is counterproductive waiting. Waiting till I had time to write. (honestly, med school and residency had a lot to do with that) Waiting till I felt like writing before sitting down at the computer. Waiting till I had everything all worked out in a story to actually put down words. Lots of stuff like that. As a dyed in the wool procrastinator, I know all about that kind of waiting.
Then there is productive waiting. Keeping your eye on the ball. Being in it to win it. Being patient. Waiting for the right story idea. The right word. The right ending. The right agent. The right publisher. Have I been impatient at times? Of course. But sometimes, good things actually do come to those who wait. Just the right kind of waiting, I believe.
There’s a lot to be said for patience, and I will need plenty more as I have no doubt that the waiting has just begun. I have just started the editing process to get my manuscript up to speed for CQ standards and I see more waiting on the horizon. Waiting for first edits. For second edits. For the cover. ARCs. First reviews. First sales. First royalties.
And starting the whole process over for the next book.
These are all good things to wait for, but as I sit here and take a deep breath, I realized one important thing.
You can’t just mope while you are waiting for the next step. You have to enjoy it.
Mountain top experiences are just that. Brief views of breathtaking beauty punctuating miles of often brutal hiking. But despite the blisters and leg cramps, there is joy not only in the vistas from the mountaintops, but from the water of a valley stream, the green of the forest, the camaraderie of your fellow hikers. You have to enjoy the process, not just the highs, and when I look back, I can say that my hike has been a good one.
A few quick thank yous to my fellow hikers, because you can never say thank you enough.
To Lisa Gus at CQ for giving me a chance.
To my Captain, Stacey Donaghy, for being the absolute best advocate for my work I could have imagined. Oh Captain, my Captain, thank you.
To my friends among Charlotte Writers, for being my Charlotte family. You all are the best. Don’t ever forget it.
To other friends, both near and far, for a million things, many of which neither of us may even remember anymore.
To my family, for their LITERALLY never ending support. You are on every page.
To God, for giving me at least my fair share of patience.
And lastly, to one of my favorite movies, for teaching me five simple words: Never give up. Never surrender.
On another night, I will type my “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” post, but for tonight, thoughtful introspection is the order of the evening.
Good night! And remember, if your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough. Now get out there and WRITE!