So. I have just finished writing my fourth book. I submitted it to my agent today. It is my first attempt at fiction. I enjoyed writing it. I just finished re-reading it and I was excited to find out what happened. Which was odd, because I knew. But I think it is a good sign.
Now, those of you who are familiar with my career might be scratching your heads. Hasn't she only written two books? When My Husband Does the Dishes and The Little Book of Anxiety?
Well, no. Those are the books that have been published. I wrote my third book last year. It is still sitting in my computer.
My third book was a memoir about grief. It was the story of my sister and I, intertwined with another painful episode in my life. The four publishers who saw it all said it was beautifully written. None of them would publish it. They said it was too sad and that they couldn't market a book about grief.
Getting that news was one of the lowest points of my life. Not the absolute lowest, obviously; I mean, hey, I've written a memoir about grief! I know what low moments look like! But it was pretty grim. I was fairly recently separated, and struggling to build a new life alone. I had taken a risk in writing a different kind of book, one which wasn't funny, or light, or easy to read. And I had taken time away from doing income-generating work, which was even more of an issue now that I was a single mum.
And I was used to success. My other two books were snapped up. I was always deeply grateful for my good fortune in being published, but I honestly never imagined that this third book wouldn't go the same way. I thought it would be a best seller. I thought it would soar. Instead I was told it wouldn't be published.
I was crushed. Crushed. I mean, temporarily broken. I sobbed non-stop for about thirty hours. I was beyond devastated. All that work, all that love, all that faith, gone to waste. It was a kick in the solar plexus. I was winded. I was inconsolable.
And then I finished crying, and I got up, and I got on with my life. And, once the dust had settled, I started another book.
I never mentioned my Grief Book (as I think of it) because I was ashamed. I was ashamed of the failure. But I'm not ashamed anymore. I'm not ashamed because I've picked myself up and tried again, and I'm happy with what I've written, and I'm hoping for good things.
And you know what? Maybe one day the Grief Book will be published. Maybe I'll self publish it and I'll sell a billion copies. Maybe I'll self publish it, and only one hundred people will read it, but out of those one hundred people, ten are deeply moved. I don't know. Life is long. There are many options ahead.
Keep trying, is what I'm saying. Keep pushing forward. You will have failures, you will have roadblocks, you will have bitter disappointments. But they fade, and you are left with the challenges and joys of today.
I hope my agent likes my new book. I hope it goes far. And if it doesn't, I will give it all up and get a job as a barista.
Or I'll write another book.
Yeah. Probably that.