I met Liz Main while we were traveling west last summer, and I read her sharp small-town cozy not long after. The two experiences will forever be united in my mind by a vivid sense of place. Liz creates that sense of place in her fiction. And she creates it in her Moment below.
You can see the lawn on which she cartwheels, can’t you? I can practically smell the scent of her dogs. And see the sky rockets, which mean, eternally, that somewhere someone has made it.
The tricky proposition is to define “made it.” I used to move the goal posts a lot: “The first sale might have been a fluke. If I sell a second book, or a third, then maybe . . .” I stopped playing that game about the time I started giving my occupation as “writer” when asked.
The initial cartwheels-across-the-lawn writing moment came one magic day 20 years ago when I slit open an envelope and found a check for $25 from a real magazine for a short story I had submitted. Independent verification of my dream!
After I stopped jumping up and down, I was wild to share my joy. But with whom? By chance, all my immediate family members were unavailable. I couldn’t think! I couldn’t think . . . let alone wait another moment to tell someone my news.
Aha! I tore outside to the deck, where Tar and Trapper, our black lab and golden retriever, dozed in the sun. Waving the check in their furry faces, I shouted, “I’m published! I’m published!” At first alarmed by my antics, they soon recognized the momentous nature of the occasion and jumped around with me, wagging their tails in admiration and grinning, as only dogs well-acquainted with the difficulty of getting published can do.
I’ve had both public writing successes and special, private affirmations. Our daughter once created a cardboard book cover (complete with rave reviews) as a stand-in for the real cover she was sure my first book would someday receive. Our granddaughter found the climax of my juvenile adventure novel so scary she made her mother stay with her while she read it. It’s a hoot to be known as the family author.
But several years ago I discovered, to my own surprise, that my deepest writing satisfaction comes from working on a project that I deem important, even if it doesn’t advance my career. It’s gangbusters when my work and the needs of the market overlap, but not necessary . . . the difference between the blaze of a skyrocket across the night sky and the visceral warmth of a steady, internal light. Each has provided me a “Made It Moment.” No need to stop at one.
Elizabeth C. Main has lived in and loved the High Desert country of Central Oregon, where she and her husband reared their two children, for over thirty-three years. She majored in English and taught in high school, but her primary focus was her family and community for many years. She became serious about writing only after the kids left home. She writes in whatever genre catches her fancy, currently cozy mysteries. The second in the Jane Serrano Mystery series, No Rest for the Wicked, was published in August, following Murder of the Month in 2005. Prior to that she published a middle-grade adventure novel, A Star for Courage, and a contemporary romance, Richer by Far. She also enjoys writing personal essays and short stories . . . anything to avoid housework.