You know that bar? The one we keep setting for ourselves? It’s like a horizon in some ways. As soon as we believe we’ve neared it, there it goes, slipping off into the unreached trammels of our lives again. In this Moment, author Julie Lindsey talks with pain and raw honesty about how that bar can become a noose around our necks, strangling our own sense of accomplishment. It took Julie’s son to remind her, Wizard of Oz-style, that really she had made it all along. And you know what? Julie’s son reminded me of that, too.
My made it moment came in September when my 10 year old son asked to take a copy of my new release, Deceived, to show his teacher. That book is prettier than my others. It’s a young adult suspense novel. It’s hardcover with a fancy black jacket. There’s a picture of me in the back. All the things I’d dreamed of, but none of that impressed me because I was too busy seeing all the things I hadn’t accomplished. Then, my son who has zero interest in reading the book, asked to show it to his teacher. My heart collapsed. It was a moment I’ll never forget and one I hold onto in the other, tougher times of author life. This is the moment that I realized I made it.
As an only child and dogged over-achiever, I’m driven to reach goals. All goals. When I made writing for publication a goal, I had no idea I was shooting for the impossible. I may as well have decided to move to LA and become an actress. I know that now. I didn’t then. Couple the reality with my personality and I was all set for tears and disappointment. And they came. Regularly.
In the beginning, I thought finding an agent would be when I knew I really made it. I found an agent. It wasn’t the moment I’d expected. She still had to sell my book. That made me nervous so I targeted a small press, hoping for a contract so I could learn, work with an editor and maybe gain a readership. I landed a contract with the small press soon after. Made it moment? Not really. The contract was for a novella. I wanted print. I wrote more for that press. I now have three novels in print with this press, plus three novellas. Made it? Not really. They were a small press. Meanwhile, my agent found a home for my YA and I signed a contract with Merit Press for Deceived. Made it? No. Merit Press got me invited to book events, put on panels, reviewed by the big guns. Made it? Not really. ARCs came. Made it? No. Author copies arrived! Made it? Not really. It’s on bookstore shelves! I have a theatrical-style trailer! Made it? Nah. Deceived wasn’t in most stores. Sales weren’t what I expected. Editorial reviews were lukewarm. The bar in my mind kept raising out of reach. Then, I signed a three book contract with Carina Press (a digital imprint of Harlequin) for a cozy mystery series. Made it? I didn’t know. At that point, I’d worked myself into a funk.
You see, when I look back at all the moments that I thought would matter, they didn’t. They came and went in a haze of “meh.” And I did that to myself. My eyes weren’t on the real point of publishing – or life – anymore, so all the milestones I ran toward seemed insignificant once I arrived.
And then, September.
My son asked to take my book to school and show his teacher. Poof. Everything else fell away. He was proud of me.
It was a much needed moment of clarity.
I’d “made it” the moment I decided to write a novel and then saw it through. I wrote a freaking NOVEL. Who does that? How many people have lots of great ideas for a novel and never begin. Or never finish? Too many. But I did it. I set a goal and I accomplished it. And my kids were watching. They saw me chase a dream. They saw my efforts pay off. Saw that anything is possible. Learned hard work and determination can take you anywhere. My kids don’t care how much money I make or what reviewers think. All they know is their mom is an author and she loves what she does. They’re proud of me. Without even trying, I taught them a priceless life lesson. Go after your dreams. They are attainable. All the other author-life hoopla is just noise. There’s always another goal lingering just out of reach, but focusing on that meant missing what I already had.
My kid taught me that.
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in rural Ohio with her husband and three small children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world.
Murder Comes Ashore is a sequel in her new mystery series, Patience Price, Counselor at Large, from Carina Press.