“Here begins”. The word that starts each section of the Latin Bible. For me it starts a fairytale. My first novel took five years to research and write–and less than a week to sell. Amid the flurry of phone calls, I kept pinching myself. In the end I had two wonderful suitors and had to choose. Both were deals known as pre-empts, which essentially meant they wanted to pounce and grab the novel before anyone else. I thought of pre-nups and felt decidedly wooed.
Of course I hoped to see my book one day in print. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a large, prestigious house like Harper would acquire it as one of their lead titles for the autumn season. Call me Cinderella: this was like finding the golden ticket, snagging the golden ring.
Still, what one friend jokingly called my “overnight success” took many years. I came late to writing fiction, though I wrote stories as a child. I didn’t start studying literature as a writer until 1997, after the birth of my first child. Over the years, I grew my ability as a writer as the children grew, while reporting and moving around. Eventually, I started trying to find a home for my work in the world. As every writer knows, it’s a hard and lonely road.
When I clinched my deal, my kids went on Facebook to proclaim their pride. I was proud, too, and very clear on the message they should take from it. Karen Joy Fowler said it years ago at the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop: “I was not the most talented writer in my writers’ group, but I was the only one who stuck with it.” Never give up. Just persevere. Miracles can and do occur.