I started writing before the internet was around so I followed the course of write and submit, write some more, submit some more, and collect a ton of rejection letters. I probably had a file drawer stuffed with rejections. At first they were your typical form rejection letter Dear “Add Authors name here, blah blah blah not for us. blah blah blah.
I persisted, refusing to give up, and a strange thing happened, the form rejection letters became personal notes from editors, close but not quite what we’re looking for. Nice try, looking forward to seeing more. That sort of thing.
Then it happened. I got a yes. A small fanzine wanted one of my stories. They couldn’t pay anything more than one contributor copy, but who cared. They wanted my story. A total stranger wanted to publish one of my stories. I was ecstatic. I was now a published writer.
At about this time I was just finishing a novel. “Adversary, Some Things Are Better Left Undiscovered.” I signed up for the Maui writer’s conference marketplace where you sent the first page of your novel, along with a hundred bucks, to the conference to be passed around to the major publishers and agents.
The first night of the conference I received a long distance phone call from Kimberly Cameron a literary agent requesting first right of refusal for Adversary. I was on cloud nine. A week later I received a written request from an editor with Random House asking to see the entire manuscript. I was on my way.
Sadly it was at this junction that I screwed up royally. Random house was talking no advance, 8% royalties with a 3% reserve against returns. Research indicated my book would probably be classified as a C title with a three month shelf life.
By this time I had already written a second book and was working on a third novel. We had gotten the internet less than six months earlier and I found a place called iUniverse where for $99.00 I could publish my book, get it listed with all the major retailers and collect a 20% royalty on each sale with the book being available forever. What could be easier than that?
Live and learn.
When the dust settled I was thoroughly disgusted with myself and writing in general. At this time too we had just bought a house and the added responsibilities, along with the loss of a hard drive that contained twenty years of hard work pretty much put the final nail in the coffin of my desire to be a writer.
I struggled to live the normal life, work hard, get promoted at work and I succeeded. I worked my way up from field rep to regional trainer, to district manager with thirty two direct reports.
But there was still something missing from my life. I tried a few times to start writing again, but my responsibilities at work would intrude. Then suddenly in February of 2008, I was unemployed, the housing market tanked, and the economy went south.
At the age of fifty I had to start all over again. To say I was bitter would be an understatement. I had given my all to this company and was left empty handed when the owner sold the rights to the software we used to the client we relied upon for our livelihood. The owner walked away with millions of dollars, a guaranteed corporate position with the client company, and hundreds of thousands in contract cancellation fees. Those of us who worked in the field, who helped make the company what it was, didn’t even get a severance package.
So I’ve returned to the one thing that has remained constant in my life. My writing. We’ll see how it goes this time.
What path did you take?