For several days after my first book was published, I carried it about in my pocket and took surreptitious peeps at it to make sure the ink had not faded. ---James M. Barrie
Notice my trend in Christmas themes this month? Wondering what The Polar Express and Santa Claus have to do with my writing blog? Well, I'll tell you.
I have received a contract offer for my first novel.
James M. Barrie’s comment perfectly sums up the gigantic thrill of an author’s first book. Even more, in my case at least, it expresses the giddy surrealism of the experience—the disbelief, the dizzy, hazy, wonderful fog of am I only dreaming and, if I close my eyes and open them, will the contract still be there? Like Barrie, I check the contract to, as it were, make sure the ink has not faded.
It’s a child-like wonder. It’s like the kid in Polar Express who meets and shakes the hand of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, his heart swelling clean out of his chest with awe. It’s his knowing, at that moment, there really IS a Santa Claus, and he’s looking right at him. The kid could come face-to-face with Santa Claus every night for the rest of his life, but he can discover the jolly old man is real only once.
And a writer can have that first book contract experience only once. Sure, they can have subsequent books published, hopefully many more. But there will be only one first time.
And I know I’ll never forget the experience.
Every author I’ve spoken to confirms that the feeling is the same for all writers. And they add that the feeling cannot be duplicated, no matter how many contracts follow. Oh, sure, there will always be a thrill to have a book accepted by a publisher, but nothing will ever compare to that first huge rush of adrenaline that comes from looking at that FIRST contract that says YOUR name is AUTHOR.
I mean, you know you’re an author. You write stuff, don’t you? Sure. But there’s just something about seeing your own name and the title author in the same sentence on an official document.
My signed contract is on its way to Dreamspinner Press, and I’m so happy and honored to be among their authors.
The book is titled Candy G. It’s the first contemporary story I’ve ever written, and it’s set in San Antonio in a community much like the area in which this Texas girl grew up.
Another wonderful side effect of the contract is that it’s fanned the creative spark in me, fueled me with a renewed drive to keep writing. I’ve begun a prequel to Candy G., and the acceptance of my first novel has helped me to wriggle out of the procrastination cobwebs and get busy on this new WIP.
And, honestly, childishly honestly—oh, I’m so ashamed of this confession—I enjoyed that confusing blend of ‘high’ and lowly dread of waiting to hear if my story would be rejected or accepted. In some odd way, that angst has become addictive. I want to write and write and write. I want to finish another book. I want to experience the exhilaration of finishing, submitting, waiting again. Who knows? The next work may meet with rejection. But I don’t care. I still want to write. I still want to run the race again.
The contract offer was many things to me, but—most importantly and most purely—it was simply the validation that being published offers to a writer. The assurance that maybe, just maybe, this writing dream really can come true.
Maybe, just maybe, like the kid in Polar Express, you really can meet the dream face to face.