Sunday, 21 November 2010

...To Make Sure the Ink Has Not Faded

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.


AlanChinWriter said...

That's the best part of getting a new contract. It does indeed fan that spark of creativity and drive. It also makes one aware that we need to make the next one better, and thus, lean more about our craft as writers.


alan chin

Lex Valentine said...

The validation is truly important to a writer. And the exhilaration of a first contract has it's own brand of sensation. Only once will will you have that wide-eyed wonder. Sure, if you were offered a big NYC contract with a huge advance to write a series of six books over three years...that would be almost comparable. But almost is a big chasm that doesn't bridge the gap to the elation of the first contract. It's still different.

Congratulations on the contract and welcome to the Wide World of Deadlines, Edits and Revisions!

C. Zampa said...

You know, Alan, you're right. The push to learn and learn and learn is maybe one of THE biggest advantages.

It really DOES to that. I love the challenge of making it better as I go along. And, oh, man, that's one thing that never ends---the learning. And I love that!

Thank you for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

You're right, Lex. I don't think anything can ever compare.

And you know what? I hope, no matter where or how far the road leads me, I never forget this feeling or let its importance diminish.

Edits and revisions? Just more chances to grow.

Thanks for visiting, lady!

Dorien Grey said...

Good on you, Carol. You'll have many more contracts in the years to come but, like one's first child, this one will always be special.

Now don't just sit there staring at it...start writing!

Sarah Ballance said...

It has been an absolute HONOR to share the ride with you. You were there long before my first contract and it has been the purest of pleasures to be here, to "see" the wonder in YOUR eyes when you got yours. Congratulations, my friend. It's well deserved. ;c)

Tess MacKall said...

" the dream face to face." That's one of the reasons you're such an amazing writer, CZ. You know how to connect. And that line just says it all.

Big hug for you, honey. I know how much this means to you and I smile every time I think of you opening that contract offer.

Here's to a long and productive life of writing----


C. Zampa said...

Yes, Dorien, I'm writing! LOL.
Thank you for visiting!

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Sarah, and likewise. I was there for yours as well, and it was an honor to share your excitement, AND for your second!

Thanks for going on the ride with me!


C. Zampa said...

Tess! Champagne! Yeah!

Thanks, lady. You've been a big help along the way, back from the beginnings in the AWH workshop. I learned so much from you.

Thanks for sharing in this experience.


Regina Carlysle said...

You never forget that moment. The wonder of it. Perhaps it goes hand in hand with the worry prior to the acceptance but it's a rollercoaster of emotions for sure. Enjoy every minute of it, honey. Use those emotions to keep you moving forward to simply expand on that dream.

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Regina!
And thank you! You've cheered me on all the way, and I love you for it!
Thanks, lovely lady!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I can't even begin to express just how thrilled I am for you, Carol. You are a wonderful writer and now the world will know it too. Congratulations. Celebrate for as long as you possibly can. Then celebrate some more!

C. Zampa said...

Your commnent nearly brings me to tears, as (and I know you get tired of hearing this) you were just about my first critiquer ever. And I learned so much from you. And admire you!

Thank you, Joylene.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks, Carol. But honestly, you inspire me. I'm thrilled to be your friend, and so excited about your book. It's gonna look damn good on my shelf!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Darn, I've been here twice and I keep forgetting to mention... you're going to need to change your profile where it says you're not published. And when you're ready we should do a big promo on my blog showcasing your book. That will be fun. We'll do several. Can't wait.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Joylene! Thank you so much!

When you said that, it reminded me that you did a blog featuring me as a new writer a long time ago, when I first started writing. To introduce me. You've always been so supportive. How lucky I've been to have known you and had such encouragement!

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Big congrats, Carol. The feeling of a first contract is indescribable for sure, but it's only the first of many. You have a wonderful way with words and your descriptions are so very vivid.

*hugs, lady*

Tony Destroni said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and success. I hope that everyone who will read your entry will pursue their work also. Likewise to the Latino Business they have to be included on the ranking of paginas amarillas so that their business will be successful and more services they need to provide.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Congrats, there's nothing like holding your very first book and Barrie's words are so utterly true. Cherish this moment, it's a once in a lifetime thing.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Lisa, for being there for me!
Hugs to you, too!

C. Zampa said...

Thank you and biggest hugs, Mick! And thanks for pushing me like you do!
Hugs to you, my friend.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Tony, and I agree with you about the Latino businesses!

Natalie Dae said...



C. Zampa said...

Oh, BIG hugs to you, too, Nat!

Laura G. said...

BRAVO, Woman!! I am sooo proud of you! Hugs!!!:)

C. Zampa said...

My sweet Laura! Lady, you've been such a supporter, too.

Big hugs to you, and thanks for visiting!

Backfence said...

Congratulations on your contract. You are an author with or without it - but there's nothing like that validation that, yes indeed, I really CAN write ... and I'm not the only one that thinks so!

Keep us posted on the progress of your book.

Carol B

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Carol!
It was such a wonderful surprise to meet up with you again, and we need to keep in touch!

Thank for your the congratulations and the support, and I'll be looking forward to your releaes, too!