Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thoughts Before the Historical Novel Society Conference

As the incredible Historical Novel Society Conference draws near, I find myself comparing the upcoming trip to the last time I went in 2011. A lot has changed... but perhaps too much is the same.

The conference was a huge turning point in my career and my life. Two years ago I was at a dead-end job, I had been working on the same novel for four years, my spirit was broken, and my dreams of being an author seemed an eternity away. I didn't read much historical fiction so I knew little about the genre. The thought of speaking to a real author made me giddy and nervous.

By the time I came back from the conference, everything was different. It was like I had glimpsed the life I always wanted -- a life where I speak to agents face-to-face and socialize with brilliant, talented authors -- and suddenly I didn't feel stuck anymore. My dreams felt possible again.

I learned from that experience that your situation doesn't affect your happiness nearly as much as your attitude. (Sure, I had heard that a million times, but it's completely different to  learn it first-hand.) With a renewed sense of purpose, I tackled the edits on my novel, read as much historical fiction as I could, joined my local roller derby team, and joined a writers' group. Things immediately started looking up.

This time when I go to the conference, I won't be an uneasy novice. I'll be a panelist! It's still hard to believe I'll be on the other side of the microphone. I'm going to be in the costume contest as a Vestal Virgin. Instead of being star-struck, I'll meet up with tons of friends I made last year and online since then. Best of all, instead of escaping from a job that I hate, I'll go as a happy stay-at-home writer with a huge pregnant belly. Life couldn't be better.

But.

Despite all my progress, there's one thing weighing me down: 

I'm going to pitch the same book I pitched two years ago. When people ask me what my novel is about, instead of excitedly chirping "It's a retelling of a Roman legend about a Vestal Virgin," I'll reluctantly mumble, "Oh, it's the same as last year."

It's frustrating when things happen so much slower than you want them to. But I guess that's the way writing goes. Heck, that's the way life goes. If there's one thing I've learned from this pregnancy, it's that timing is everything. Often the absolute perfect time for something to happen is years later than you think it should be, but when it finally happens, you're glad it didn't come a moment sooner. Hopefully, the perfect time for me to meet my agent is now.

If not...

Well, that's life.

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