February 15, 2012

Made It Moment: Polly Iyer

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:48 pm


I spotted at least a half-dozen Made It Moments as I read Polly Iyer’s piece–see if you can spot them all :) And then I came to the Moment Polly cites out of them all. And I realized that I’d completely missed the boat. I’d missed it, but Polly knows what the boat is, and boy, is she sailing it. Read on.

Polly Iyer

When Jenny asked me to write a blog post titled My Made-it Moment, I thought, made it? But I haven’t made it. Then I thought longer and harder about what “made it” meant.

Most of the writers in the groups to which I belong claim to have written stories since they were kids. Not me. I drew pictures. All the time. Wherever there was a piece of paper and pencil, I drew something .That led me to art school and a career as an illustrator. Years later, no, decades later, when I needed a diversion because real life became too heavy, I sat down at my computer and started typing out a story. I had an idea, knew the characters, but I didn’t have a clue where I was going, or maybe I should say where the characters were taking me. I went along for the ride. And what a ride. Over the years, I’ve been an ex-call girl, a secret novelist, a wayward wife, a man who spent fifteen years in prison, a blind psychologist, and a psychic. I was anyone I wanted to be as long as there was a twisted tale involved. More importantly, I was hooked on writing.

My stories took me to another place, a place I loved. Being a realist and self-critical to a fault, I thought my first story was interesting with intriguing characters, but I was savvy enough to realize I didn’t know what the hell I was doing as far as the technical aspects. I found an editor on the Internet, wrote him, and he agreed to edit my book. When he reached page 49, he emailed me that the story was great—really, his words—but the writing needed work. No surprise there. I did mention I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t I?

Still, those words, ‘The story is great,’ had a tremendous impact on me. I still have that book in my computer, still think it’s a good story, but time has passed and I need to rework it. The editor was a character and we became great friends. He worked on three of my books and offered three edits for each one. He helped with sentence structure and the technical elements I knew almost nothing about. Later, when I learned more, I realized he wrote only non-fiction. I mean I knew that, but I didn’t know what he didn’t know because I didn’t know it either. For example, POV wasn’t on his radar. Talk about head-hopping. I went back and forth from one person’s thoughts to another’s, never realizing there needed to be a break. Fortunately, I met two writers when I joined the local chapter of Sisters in Crime who asked if I wanted to critique with them. Why they asked, I’ll never know, but I’ll always be grateful to Ellis Vidler and Linda Lovely because they taught me so much. I still don’t know everything, still make mistakes. Learning to write well is a never-ending journey, and the question marks along the way inspired me to learn more.

I’ve written eight books, a few half-finished that I will finish, and a couple of erotic romances published under a pseudonym. After two years with a wonderful agent who said she’d take me back if I decided to go the traditional route again, I self-published three of my books with another one going up on Amazon within days. Tapping into my artist background, I created the covers, too.

So what was my made-it-moment? Not the words of the editor. Not my first publication—an erotic romance for a traditional publisher. My made-it-moment was finishing that first book, warts and all. The book had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and it told a good story. Don’t let anyone tell you that writing a book is easy because hundreds of people are doing it every day. It’s hard. And don’t think it isn’t a big deal. (Whoops, double negative.) It is. In fact, it’s huge. It truly is a made-it-moment.

Here’s to all who’ve made the journey and finished a book. And a word of encouragement to those en route: keep forging ahead. You’ll see what I mean.

Polly Iyer was born on the coast of Massachusetts and now resides in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina in an empty nest house with her husband and a drooling mutt named Max. She’s been an artist, importer, designer, and store owner, but writing is her passion. She belongs to Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Her stand-alone novels can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. I think that you are correct! Actually finishing your book is a made it moment! Another great post!

    Comment by Connie J Jasperson — February 15, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

  2. I like your Made it Moment. I have one on the rare occasions when I finish a book and know what a thrill it is. You’re such a good writer and a good storyteller, Polly. I learned a lot from you too. You’re a great critique partner. I got lucky when you showed up. Keep at it, friend!

    Comment by Ellis Vidler — February 15, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

  3. I’m so happy for Polly’s success! A good writer and a great friend, too. We’ve only met on the internet, but I just know I’d like her right away.

    Comment by Kaye George — February 15, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

  4. Connie, I’m glad you agree.

    Thanks, Ellis. You are a true friend in every way. You have forgotten more than I will ever know about writing. I can’t imagine teaching you anything, but I’m thrilled you think I have.

    Kaye, we will meet someday. And I know we’ll have a lot of fun. It’s a pleasure “knowing” you.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 15, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

  5. I think you’re exactly right – you’ve made it as a writer when you finish that first book. There are several steps between that one and making it to a published and recognized author, but that first one is the biggest. So glad you made it!!

    Comment by mountainmama — February 16, 2012 @ 6:14 am

  6. It is a great accomplishment to finish a book, but then most first books are not in and of themselves great. Too many authors rush into publishing because they make too much of that moment. I think the illuminating moment– when you understand the level of your craft–and can see where you are on the path of craft, knowing you must improve, is pivotal in getting to that “made it” moment. I hope every author has that illuminating moment because it is essential.

    Comment by E. B. Davis — February 16, 2012 @ 7:12 am

  7. Hey, Polly. I second what Ellis said. I’ve learned a lot from you, too! Your characters are always interesting, your stories have great twists and your dedication to writing and improving your craft is awesome. Keep it up! I’m always anxious to read your next book.

    Comment by Linda Lovely — February 16, 2012 @ 8:40 am

  8. Polly, I agree absolutely that finishing that first book is an enormous accomplishment. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Comment by Anita Page — February 16, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  9. Thanks, J.C. Yes, there are a lot of steps–baby steps and big giant leaps. But there’s nothing like knowing that you’ve completed the task. I think the first thing after that, one of the leaps, is figuring out that the book isn’t ready for prime time and, if you’re being truthful, probably sucks.

    Yes, Elaine, rushing into publishing is a mistake. Even after a zillion read-throughs by me and others, there were typos in my books. No story holes, I don’t think, although some reader may find things they don’t like. That will always be the case for any author. Not everyone is going to love your baby.

    Linda, what I said to Ellis goes for you too. Both of you are terrific writers. I was fortunate to learn from the best. I’m delighted that your book is doing well. No surprise to me.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 16, 2012 @ 9:20 am

  10. I too agree. Finishing a book is a real accomplishment, Also the development of writing skills is a life-long process.

    Comment by Warren — February 16, 2012 @ 9:22 am

  11. Anita and Warren, I’m glad you agree. Just seeing THE END on that last page is reason to rejoice. Honing your craft is what makes writing such a challenge. You never really reach that pinnacle of perfection, but you’re always striving. I really think it’s that way in every artistic endeavor, whether writing or music or film.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 16, 2012 @ 9:52 am

  12. What a fabulous moment! I love it.

    Comment by SavvyBlue — February 16, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  13. What a wonderful story, Polly and so true. There are many aspects of your journey that I can relate to so well. I’ll be looking for your books on Amazon – that is if they’re in print.

    Comment by Gloria Alden — February 16, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  14. Aw, yay! This made me happy – congrats to you! :)

    Comment by Leah Rhyne — February 16, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  15. I guess I forgot to mention that one of my books, Murder Deja Vu is free Thursday, Feb 16, on Kindle.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 16, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  16. I would expect nothing less from the best mom in the world. If it were not for your critiquing on some of my work, I might sound like a 3rd grader. Love,

    Comment by Daniel — February 16, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

  17. Fabulous story, Polly, and you deserve kudos for staying the course.
    Thank you for sharing your story. We all can learn so much from each other.

    Comment by P.L. Blair — February 16, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  18. Great made it moment. I’ve never written anything but I agree that when your book is finished then you’ve made it.

    Comment by Kellie — February 16, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

  19. Oh, my dear son wrote in. Honestly, I didn’t pay him to do that. What a lovely surprise.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 16, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

  20. Thanks, Gloria. I will eventually put my books in paper. I just have to take the time to figure out how to do it. I haven’t yet.

    Thanks, SavvyBlue and Leah and Kellie. I think whether you write or not, there’s that moment when you do something you didn’t think you could do. You remember that moment forever.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 16, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

  21. I think writing eight books is a Made it Moment all by itself. Worthy of celebration!

    Comment by Johanna — February 17, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  22. Thanks, Johanna. They’re not all shelf-ready, but I’m working on it.

    Comment by Polly Iyer — February 17, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

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