Friday, April 30, 2010

How I Got Here

Since I've moved on now to stressing about the next step (talk about not living in the moment) in my publication journey, I thought I'd write this blog post mainly as a way of reminding myself how I should enjoy where I'm at now.

Like pretty much all writers, I've been writing all my life. My first 'novel', written around age 12, was about a girl who had one arm. She triumphed over her disability -- and the death of her best friend -- and won a gold medal in the Olympics. Of course she had to die (you know, to maximise the drama), so I killed her off in a epilogue. I printed the whole thing off on my Commodore 64 and sent it away to publishers. Unsurprisingly they weren't that interested, but I did receive one nice letter suggesting a few tips to make it better.

Over the next few years, I got tied up with the business of being a teen and although I still loved writing, I put it on the backburner. It was only in grad school, where I was doing a Masters of Journalism, that I became interested in writing again. But fame beckoned (or so I thought), and I decided to become a TV reporter. That didn't work -- nor did editing, PR, teaching or recruitment!

It was only when I was really desperate to leave a job (and I mean desperate -- my Blackberry, which I'd left unlocked, conveniently dialled one of my bosses and recorded a 10-minute rant of me venting to a friend about that boss -- well, you can only imagine the atmosphere that created), that I made the leap to trying to be a full-time novelist. I knew I could write, but I didn't even know if I could produce a novel.

So I sat at my desk that first day and wrote a line. And I kept writing, until a few months later I had my first full-length novel. I was so happy -- I was a writer! I'd done it! I made some edits, then sent it off to agents. Rejections came in. I sent it to more agents. More rejections. I put my head down and wrote Novel Number 2. This was going to be it! But no -- more and more rejections rolled in. So... Novel Number 3 came along. And guess what? More rejections! Novel Number 4 -- rejections! Number 5 -- rejections (well, one big rejection. I honestly couldn't bring myself to even work on it after that).

In the midst of Novel Number 2 rejections, I'd met with an editor and pitched her my novel. And surprise! She rejected it. But she liked my writing, and if we could come up with some non-fiction ideas she would be interested in working with me. I waffled for awhile. I didn't want to do non-fiction, I whined to my husband. It wasn't my passion! After rolling his eyes out of his sockets, he put them back in and gave me a hard look. I was lucky, he said. This was an opportunity. A chance to get in the door, to learn how publishing worked and go through the process.

So I sucked it up and pitched a few ideas, and finally we hit on a travel series idea. I wrote one book, then another, all the while working away on my fiction and hoping, praying, that all the energy I was investing would pay off in the end.

And you know what?

It has!

51 comments:

  1. I believe with my whole heart that a talent for writing is only a small portion of the formula for publishing success. Persistence and patience, and a willingness to learn and evolve in the craft, are the true keys to success. That and a pure love for writing.

    I'm so happy for you, Talli. And is that little pic of you new on the sidebar? You're a doll! LOVE your haircut:))

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  2. I hadn't realized you'd written five novels. WOW! Very impressive. Hold on to those, because once you get your name out there, they might be a whole lot easier to sell!

    Very happy for you. You deserve this!

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  3. I can't wait to read your book! You truly are a writer because you kept writing in spite of the earlier rejections. I think a lot of other people give up too soon.

    The part about the Blackberry was made me laugh (not AT you, but WITH you:). That's my one of my nightmares, that I might accidentally call someone on my cell and they'll hear me talking about them.

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  4. Thanks guys!

    Nicole - yes, I've come out from behind the coffee cup! That's me. Thanks!

    Neurotic - hehe - my phone dialled not once but actually three times (how, I don't know!), all the while recording my venom. I'm not normally a ranting kind of person but, well, I'd been pushed a bit to the edge! Be careful with your Blackberry! :)

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  5. Oh, and Miss V - I hope and pray those novels won't see the light of day!

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  6. What a story! I love hearing people persevere despite the obstacles. You didn't give up after all of those rejections.

    Now I want you to write a post about the boss and the cell phone.

    I'm glad to see your new picture!

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  7. Talli, what a trooper you are! You are an inspiration. I love hearing success stories and they all have three things in common: talent, passion, and above all, perseverance. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  8. Hey - you haz a photo! And a longer profile! And a website! :)

    I am so happy to hear things are coming together for you. It sounds like you deserve every good thing after all that hard work, and just shows that perserverence is key to making Good Things happen. :)

    Eek for that phone call though. How's about this - a similar thing happened to me years ago when I was having a secret romance with my boss (both were single, it was just we didn't want the whole office to know) and we were chatting about our up-coming weekend holiday in Paris. Little did I know my phone had betrayed me in my bag and called the last number on my mobile... which was the office gossip. Not so secret romance the next day!

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  9. This was a great post! We have to remember that pain, work, and rejections are all part of the process. It it was easy, it wouldn't be so rewarding.

    I'm still celebrating for you - and love the pic!

    Have a great weekend :)

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  10. ugh that story with your boss and blackberry makes me want to throw up. I don't even know how i'd handle that.
    Not well, that's for sure

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  11. Wow I love a success story! And you probably know how both envy-making and encouraging such stories can be, right? Did you already have an editor looking over your work when she suggested non-fiction or was this a chance meeting as in the movie of your life-story kinda way?!

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  12. Yeah!!
    Thanks for sharing your journey.

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  13. I can so relate to staying in the moment. Enjoy the weekend.

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  14. Thanks for sharing.
    And maybe your Blackberry formed its own artificial intelligence?

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  15. YAY!!! Amazing success story! All your hard work is paying off!

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  16. I admire your perseverance so, so much! You deserve this success! Bravo!

    I can't WAIT to promote your book, by the way!

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  17. No effort we put into something we love is ever wasted and your story is great proof of that. Yay!

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  18. Here's to sticking to it!
    *clinky*

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  19. Mz Talli Roland.

    You tease!

    Not only are you going to be published with a blurb that I really really think is so fab but look at your new avatar!! You look like that one out of Girls Aloud - wossername... the blonde one!

    And now you also reveal that you've got a couple of non-fiction books tucked away in the British Library under "travel section"!

    :-)

    OH but seriously (you so look like that Girls Alound woman) anyway - seriously - I love your story - it's amazing and shows how you were so determined to get where you are now. Well done you!!!!

    And well done hubby for making you get that all important foot in the door. Sometimes you really have to take that leap of faith and grab at a lifeline thrown at you even if you didn't know it was that in the first place!

    I'm so so pleased for you, so pleased that all your effort has finally paid off and you can now consume all that wine you had hidden under your bed.

    Hee-hee!

    Take care
    x

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  20. Talli! I am just so happy for you! And thank you so much for sharing this story. I needed to hear it.

    I love how you have persevered! And your new profile pic is BEAUTIFUL! WHy did you hide behind a coffee cup for so long? Hmmm?

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  21. LOVE your picture...you're so much cuter than a cup!

    (I like the word laurel, too. I think we like words w/ lots of L's :)

    I'm excited for you! Now enjoy your moment...all weekend long!
    Love,
    Lola

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  22. Talli,

    This is such a great story of perseverance. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    And I agree with Lola, I love your new avatar pic. :)

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  23. Hi Talli, Thats a great story and I admire your perseverance.
    You deserve your lucky break, enjoy it.
    I agree with Kitty, you look just like Sarah in Girls aloud, great pic.

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  24. This entry is so inspiring. I cannot believe you have written so many novels! It was only a matter of time until you became published. Congrats on all of your success!!!

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  25. What a complicated and wonderful journey we travel to get to our destinations. I'm so glad your dream is at hand!

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  26. p.s. Talli, if you do a book signing in Dublin and they mention exclusive nightclubs, pack your hurling helmet.

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  27. Aw, thanks so much for the lovely comments (I know I keep saying that, but it's true!) For a really inspiring story, you should check out Nicola Morgan's blog where she talks about how she tried for more than 20-ish years to break into writing. And now she's a big-time author.

    Brigid, I told you I wanted to try hurling! What better to practise than the rarified exclusive Dublin nightclubs? :)

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  28. Oh yes -

    Old Kitty and Brigid - I get that Sarah Harding thing quite a bit. I don't fall out of Nobu drunk though; I prefer the privacy of my flat!

    Jayne - Oh dear. Did the relationship last much longer after that? It's amazing how phones can betray us.

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  29. I think it's amazing how many novels you've written even if during the process they weren't necessarily where you thought you'd be. You continued to work hard and remain patient and now you're being rewarded with what sounds like quite an amazing story!!

    I can't wait until it's released! I'm super excited for you!

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  30. i am SO happy for you! When it comes out, I am buying a copy. maybe two.

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  31. Everyone's journey is so unique and interesting. Hat's off to ya!

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  32. Inspiring story! Thank you for sharing it. But why is it that husbands have to be so darn practical? ;-)

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  33. Oh my god!! You changed your coffee cup picture!!

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  34. Congratulations. Love the news! And love the new pic.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  35. Great post. Never giving up is a good thing to remember. Your Blackberry story was great. You could so use that in a novel.
    Love the new pic too. *waves* "Nice to see you."

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  36. Talli, Congratulations!!!!! Cheers to supportive husbands and bad bosses.

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  37. Congratulations and a very inspiring post. We just have to keep trying if we really want something.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  38. I really like reading writers' stories. There's always that 'if it can happen to them it can happen to me' feeling about them.

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  39. We husbands are a wise mob :)
    I love that you went for an opportunity even though it wasn't your first love.

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  40. So exciting - thanks for sharing your story. It does take a lot of time to learn the craft. But you've obviously learned it well!! Awesome :)

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  41. Congratulations.
    I enjoyed reading the story of perseverance. Good luck with the next exciting stage. :)

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  42. You are the queen of preserverance and I admire that. I'm so glad things worked out for you in one area of writing and I have no doubt they will in fiction as well.

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  43. Congratulations!!!! I am sorry to be so late in chiming in after hearing the good news! Yahoo!

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  44. Great post but that bit about your Blackberry...OMG!

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  45. Thank you for sharing your journey with us! It's encouraging to hear about your success even after multiple rejected novels - like the ones sitting in my desk drawer right now. :( And that blackberry story is hilarious - horrifying, but hilarious. And congrats again - I'm so excited for you!

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  46. Well said! And a BIG congrats to you on your book deal!! How awesome!

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  47. Interesting how one's talents take a tangent or two which lead to personal and professional growth.

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  48. Your story really really gives me hope. Because I'm on Novel #3 right now, after having gotten TONS of agent rejections for 1 and 2. I've actually gotten some for 3 as well, but I took the SPARE suggestions I got and am putting them to work as I revise. Hoping this will be it. But, if it's not, I see that it's possible after this. :)

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  49. I'll second that - your story gives me hope too. Congratulations on all three books!

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Coffee and wine for all!