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?