5 Things That Surprised Me About Becoming an Author
I feel so lucky that I get to do what I love, a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. A lot of people ask me what the most surprising things are about my job–things I never predicted along the way. Here are a few:
*Getting published internationally: To date, I think my books are translated in more than 20 languages and sold in about 30 countries. That fact, to me, is still staggering! I remember getting a phone call when I was shopping at Trader Joe’s from my agent telling me that several German publishers were in a bidding war for my first novel. My first response was, “Wow!” And my second response was, “wait, really?” I had no idea that I could sell books outside of the US, let alone become a bestseller in other countries, both of which have happened for me. Such a pinch-myself moment, even still.
*The joy of hearing from readers: I always say that the best part of my job is not the writing, but connecting with people who have read my stories. There is no greater feeling as a storyteller than hearing from someone who was touched by your words. It never gets old.
*How seriously people regard stories: I once received a long letter from a reader who felt that the flower on the cover of my first novel, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, was a pansy and not a violet, and how it bothered her greatly. I get lots of reader mail, from people all over the world about things big and small. And while most of the mail is lovely and positive, sometimes readers get really bogged down in details. They MUST KNOW what happened to a lesser character in this book, or someone’s labrador retriever in another. I don’t always have answers for them, but it makes me smile to know that people truly do take books seriously and that they crawl into the pages of my books and really feel like they are living there.
*How important it is to ride the wave of inspiration: I don’t always have great writing days. Sometimes I write a few sentences, sometimes a few chapters. In the beginning, I thought that to be successful I had to write stacks of pages each day. Not true. Writing a little each day is the key (and I continually have to remind myself of that). Even more important is tuning in to moments when I am feeling inspired and when the words are flowing. When I am in this mode, it is magic. More words are written, and better stories are told.
*Writing well counts, but ideas are really what matters most in the long haul: I am no Hemingway, but the reason I have a thriving career and the reason I think I will be writing until I’m old and gray (at least, I think) is not because I am a genius writer by any stretch of the road. No way. However, the reason I think my career has longevity is because I have no shortage of ideas. Ideas for books. Ideas for titles, Ideas for characters. Crazy plot twists and exciting love stories. I have too many to use, and more keep coming. I always tell aspiring writers that writing is important, yes, but the ideas are even more important.
Just a few thoughts for this Monday morning. Happy writing, everyone.