I’m not old, but I’m certainly not young. Not quite middle-aged, but not a sprightly teen. I’m about a third of the way through this life (if I’m lucky), so let’s call what I’m in now my “tri-life.” (And if thoughts of Second Life come to mind, just ignore them; I barely have enough time to keep up with my regular life, let alone spend hours with an “internet husband” online).
This year is going to be a kind of milestone year for me. I’m having two books released by a major publisher and hopefully, this is just the start. Obviously, I didn’t just write these books. Most people understand that publishing through traditional channels (i.e. not self-pubbing) is slow, and it can take upwards of a year (sometimes much more!) for a book to be published once it has been submitted, and this isn’t even counting the time it takes to get an agent. So I started writing a few years ago, got very lucky with an agent, got lucky again with an acquisitions editor, and got lucky a third time with the publication schedule. But I was still in my tri-life while doing this.
What’s amazing to me is that I’m not alone. So many of my friends and colleagues my age are entering the most creative times of their lives right now. One of my college roommates, Leigh Bardugo, is coming out with a blockbuster YA novel this June. And another college friend, Amy Jean Porter, just released a critically-acclaimed book which showcases her fabulous artwork. There are more, so many more friends who are professional musicians and artists and novelists, that it would seriously be impossible to list them all for fear that I’d leave someone off. I’ll try to make a list sometime, but all I can say is that my college class was very, very creative. Some started honing their craft early, but most started like I did; a few years out of college – maybe a bit more.
So why has creativity struck at this particular time in my life?
As I was pondering this question, I realized that it wasn’t as much a question of letting it strike as it was a question of letting it just be.
I’ve always been creative. I’ve always been a writer, a musician, an artist – a craftsman – but I was so hung up on following the straight-and-narrow path to success that I kind of buried it away for a long time. Sure, I had my outlets – I sang with choruses, joined book groups, and had three kids in three-and-a-half years (which some might argue would sap the creativity out of anyone, but not me!) – but it still wasn’t enough. It was always there, simmering beneath the surface.
I started my first book in 2005 believing I had to. I needed to. For me. To say I’d done it. And I knew I could do it. It took me a long time to write, mostly because I had a pretty serious day job. Then, almost immediately after I finished the first one, I started the second one.
When I told my brother about what I was doing, kind of sheepishly, I might add, his response surprised me: “What took you so long?”
And as I’m thinking about the two releases and the excitement I’m going to have at RWA Nationals this summer, and the new authors I’ve met and have yet to meet, and the amazing calls I have with my editors and agent, and the fact that I have one book down and three more to complete this year and I can’t wait to write them, I’m thinking to myself:
Yeah. This is amazing. I love what I’m doing. I am the luckiest woman alive.
What took me so long?