My second novel The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea was released last week. I've lost count of how long it took me to write, but I'm guessing something like six years. During that time, I threw the book in the too-hard basket at least twice, deciding historical fiction was wayyy too difficult. On finally finishing the book, I was inundated with rejection letters- the worst coming from an agent who, after reading the whole manuscript said "we all sat around the table discussing whether or not to take your book on. After careful debate, we've decided not to."
Seriously... I understand this was supposed to be encouraging, but for me it was gutting to get so close and get turned down at this point. And then among all the rejections was a yes from UK publisher Endeavour Press. Instead of leaping around the room and popping the champagne, I re-read the email over and over to make sure I hadn't misunderstood. I then called my partner to tell him "I thought" I'd just been offered a publishing contract. After so many 'no's, a yes felt surreal; like it could be taken away at any point. I barely told anyone about it until I had the signed contract back from the publisher and my lawyer partner told me that no, they couldn't back out now.
So last week the book I spent so long trying to get published- and which for a long time was a giant swashbuckling pile of crap- was released. Instead of celebrating, I immediately went to work actioning the marketing I was planning to do to complement that of the publishers. In the same week, I hit the sales target for my other books that I was aiming to reach by the end of 2016. And then whinged when sales slowed down the following day...
In my days as a Yamaha music teacher, I'd spend some time in the last class of the year asking my students to turn back to the first page of their music books. "Remember when this song was hard?" I'd ask, pointing to the first song they'd ever learnt. (C,C,C ... C,C,C... etc etc) The kids would laugh and yell out "That's so EASY!" Even now as a private music teacher, I often ask my students to record their playing- one of the reasons being so they can listen back in a few months and reflect on how much they've achieved.
And yet, as I've come to realise, I am terrible at doing this myself.
This time of year, I'm all about making plans for the new year, setting myself goals and charging off at a cracking pace before the motivation runs out. (Usually this is around February when I return to freezing London after a month in Australia and all I want to do is sit on the couch and drink wine in my pyjamas.) And, knowing myself, I can tell you none of that is going to change this year- there'll still be plans and goal setting and to-do lists and all those things I'm slightly addicted to. BUT- I'm also going to make sure I belatedly pop the champagne I should have drunk when I got that 'yes'. I'm going to have the celebration I should have had when my book was released. And I'm going to sit on the couch and drink wine in my pyjamas, reflecting on the fact that throughout this year that few can deny was a real bitch, there was actually some really great stuff that happened.
P.S. If you're like me and really struggle to stop and reflect, check out this podcast from Your Business is Your Life. I discovered it exactly when I needed to and it really made me stop and think. (Actually you should check out all their podcasts because they are great!)