There are some Moments for which I can’t write an intro worthy of being put first, and this is one. You have to read through the first paragraphs to get to the punch at the end that may bring tears to your eyes. It did mine. Ali Brandon knows what making it really means. Thanks, Ali.
Still in the process of making it seems a more accurate description of my writing career…this after almost 20 years and 9 published books (with 2 more currently under contract) since my first manuscript sold. Part of the problem is that I’ve gone through a few phases as an author. I started out writing historical romance, then went on hiatus for awhile, then wrote short fiction, then did the hiatus thing again, and now am writing mysteries. It’s kind of hard to “make it” when your career has progressed in fits and starts. All the same, I’ve had several of what I consider to be mini-moments which were pretty satisfying.
A few are obvious. There was that whole first sale thing (woohoo!), followed by the first time I saw my book on a store shelf (double woohoo!). After awhile, it was being asked to speak at events for bucks (or, at least, for expenses and a free lunch). At the same time came the starred reviews from PW and Library Journal, as well as the obligatory smackdown from Kirkus. (An editor once reassured me that you’re nobody as a writer until Kirkus has given you a scathing review. So consider me somebody.)
Oh, and I can’t forget the contest win, complete with a really cool medal that hangs from a honking big ribbon around my neck. Even nicer was finally making enough sales in the course of a week to hit a national list. According to my editor, this means they can officially slap the phrase “national best-selling author” on my next book cover. Triple woohoo!
These were some very nice moments, indeed. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t compare myself to other writers who, to my mind, actually have made it. They are the ones who’ve made scads more money, hung out on the New York Times list for weeks on end, had their books turned into movies. Deep in my little writer’s heart, I want to be them. I want to be the novelist who steps onto a crowded airplane and sees that half the travelers are reading my latest release. I want to be guest of honor at a prestigious writers conference. And it still might happen one day.
But I’m also prepared for the fact that it might not. I’m good with that, however, and let me tell you why. You see, I’ve had the moments as a writer that really count…hearing from readers who truly enjoyed my work. Just a couple of quick lines in an email—I loved it, when’s the next one coming out?—are enough to put a smile on my face for a whole day. I’ve learned that, more than any bestseller list or movie deal, validation from my readers is all I really need as an author.
So, with apologies to Mary Tyler Moore, maybe I’ve made it, after all.
Ali Brandon a.k.a. Diane A.S. Stuckart is the national bestselling author of Double Booked for Death, the first in her Black Cat Bookshop mystery series from Berkley Prime. She’s also the author of the popular Leonardo da Vinci mysteries, which have received starred reviews from PW and Library Journal, along with the Florida Book Award Silver medal. A native Texan, Diane now lives in South Florida.