The other night on Jeopardy, one of the contestants said he decided to write a book because he needed money for an engagement ring for his girlfriend. He said he was working for a non-profit at the time and just decided that the way to get the money was to write a romance novel. He said that the first book paid for the ring and the second book paid for the wedding. It was as though he decided to be a romance novelist and a moment later money was thrust into his hands.
A sweet story, yes, but it also frustrated me. Not everyone’s writing and publishing story is this simple. In fact, most of ours are instead long-term, hair-pulling, ready-to-quit-at-any-second endeavors. But isn’t what he said how many people think it happens? There are a lot of publishing stories out there from people who just “fell into” publishing, but for every instantaneous book story, there are a dozen or more rejection after rejection stories and a hundred more unpublished author stories.
It’s true that I’m in the unpublished writer camp. I don’t have an agent. I don’t have a contract. I don’t have a book published. Outside of a few short stories published in the lit journals of schools I was attending at the time, I even have a long list of rejected pieces of short fiction and poetry. I can wear the unpublished moniker proudly, even if all I really want is to see my name on the spine of a book on the shelf at my local library and bookstore.
Should I admit to jealousy that this guy was not only on Jeopardy (I really wish I was better at that online test every January!) but also decided one day to write a novel, happened to get it published, and made enough money from it to buy what I assume is a very nice engagement ring? Sure, why not? I am jealous. I’m jealous every time I see a debut author sign a book deal and every time a fellow unpublished author gets an agent. But at least I’m not one of those jealous people who aren’t doing something about their jealousy.
I’m writing. I’m writing a lot. It’s not like I’ve never finished a novel before. I have several. I’m working on new projects, I’m trying poetry, I’m taking the time to write something each day. That writing isn’t staying hidden. I’ll showcase it here. I’ll keep sending my novels to agents. I’ll eventually get an agent, a book deal, a book. So long as I don’t sit back and wait for a book deal to magically fall into my lap, then I think it’s okay that I get a little frustrated and a little jealous whenever I hear stories like the one from Jeopardy the other night.
Really, if there’s anything that came out of this moment that I should remember, it’s this: the entire thing inspired me to launch this blog and tell my own writing story, in-progress but hopefully, one day, with a happy ending.