Except to me. Today is the day Sleeping Sickness, my debut novel, is released. As my bio says, I’ve been writing since I could grip a pencil. The first time I saw my name in print was in 5th grade, when a short story of mine was published in a school system “literary magazine”. (Heavily edited, but that’s an essay for another day.)
So you would think today would find me on cloud nine, beaming sunshine out my arse, and skipping along in joy. Right? I certainly thought so.
But that didn’t happen. I woke up at my normal time, got my coffee, took my shower, and sat down to write. I didn’t even think about Sleeping Sickness until I got a note from my wife. So that made me think: Is today really any different?
It is. Today is the day a little bit of me will live forever. Sure, I have a few kids, but those are only really half of me. Sleeping Sickness is all mine; nn idea, which I nursed into a story, sweated out over four months. It was read by a half dozen beta readers; and I added 13,000 words to make the story whole. I ended up sending it to a group of wonderful people at Indie Gypsy, who were gracious enough to print one of my stories in their anthology a few years back.
The ladies at IG took a rough, rough, rough draft and . . . turned it into a gosh by honest book. They took the rough and smoothed it, dealt with email after email from me asking various annoying questions, and made the idea that came to me in April 2011 complete.
So why aren’t I turning cartwheels?
I am, in a way. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done, and I’m looking forward to working with them in the future. But today made me realize, more than ever, that I’m a writer. Publishing is just a small part of a writer’s job. Not that it’s an unimportant part, mind you; after all, we have bills to pay.
After I got out of the shower, guess what I did?
I sat down and put out about 1100 words into my newest work. And I’ll do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. Because I’m a writer. My goal is to turn out a solid manuscript a year. I’m doing that while doing what so many of us do; working a ‘real’ job (as in, one that pays the bills) maintaining a home life, coaching my kids in soccer, trying to be a good husband, and keeping the grass cut.
While Sleeping Sickness is out, and that’s a good thing, that’s not the end goal for me. Are you writing? Good. Because that is what will make you better. Getting published should be your goal, but it’s not the finish line. It’s a . . . bite of dessert in the middle of your meal. It’s a little bit of adult fun time in the middle of the day. It’s a reward that tells you “Yes, dear,” when you ask if you can stay up way past your bedtime.
So . . . when you sell your first (or second, or third, or fourth) novel, and you finally hold it in your hand and smell the pages, the ink, and a little bit of your sweat, enjoy it. But don’t stop there. Because there is plenty more where that came from. From you, your publisher, and your keyboard. Because it’s easier if you just go ahead and admit it: You would do this even if no one was watching.