Two weeks ago I wrote about being brave, not fearless. I was a week away from publication day, and a soupcon of emotions. The day after I wrote that post, I was at a New England Crime Bake committee meeting (I am co-chair this year), and I was talking to one of the other writers there. He asked how I was doing, and I told him I was a flipping wreck.
“Of course you are,” he said. “You’ve been an aspiring novelist for 20 years. So was I. I did aspiring really well. I had no idea how to be a published novelist. It was like a week before my son was born. I was excited, and nervous, and had no idea what it was going to be like, even though people tried to explain it to me.”
Publication day for Just Killing Time was the turning of a chapter. The chapter weighed 1000 pounds, and had 20 years of work, tears, dreams, and goals in it. But it got turned. Today, I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve been thinking about this past week.
- Writing is solitary, getting published is a community event. I’ve said this dozens of times before, and I will continue to say it. I would not have realized this dream without Sisters in Crime, especially the New England chapter. There are other people, and groups, who have supported/taught/encouraged me over the years, including the women on this blog. Find your tribe, folks. A writers group, a professional organization, a workshop. Find people who can share your dream, give you advice and feedback, for whom you will celebrate, and by whom you will be encouraged.
- Pay it forward, always. 99% of the people with the dream of getting published won’t realize that dream. For a long time, I didn’t think I would. But that didn’t stop me from celebrating the success of others, in public and loudly. I went to signings, posted reviews, shared posts about readings. There are two reasons to pay it forward—first, because karma is real. Second, because those folks help fill the room at your launch party.
- I went to Bouchercon this past weekend. Bouchercon is the largest mystery convention in the world. I was talking to Brian Theim, who is also a debut novelist this year. (His book, Red Line, is wonderful.) He and I, along with Sherry Harris, Michele Dorsey and about 40 other authors, had a minute to pitch our books at the New Author Breakfast. Afterwards we were comparing notes, and Brian told me that he was never going to complain about any part of being published. He knew too many people who’d trade places in a minute, but didn’t have their chance yet. He is right, and I have been thinking about that all week.
- I will never be a first time novelist again, so I really need to enjoy this. Deep breath through the panic, actively stopping and appreciating this moment. Living with gratitude.
I know that this next chapter is going to have twists and turns, just like the last one did. But you know what? I’m buckled in for the ride. Bring it on. Edits on book #2 are coming in any day, and I am plotting book #3, so it is also back to work. That said, I’m still floating, and will be for a long while.
Aspiring friends, the chapter does weigh half a ton, but the page can be turned. I am proof of that! Published friends, does any of this resonate with you?
Julianne Holmes is a published author (!) of the Clock Shop Mystery series. Just Killing Time was released October 6. J.A. Hennrikus writes short stories. Julie Hennrikus is a arts administrator.