And only the first thing happened. Sorry. After one year on the market, my first lesson to the would be author is this: if you're in this for the fame and fortune, I beg you, get out. Do something - do anything - else. This ain't that kinda party, brah. You do this because you love it. You do this because, to not do it is to deny your very nature, your reason for being on this planet. And if you're not doing what you're meant to do, well, then, what's the freaking point?
Sure, you could be one of the fortunate few: the next King, the next Patterson, the next Rowling; one book sold, and suddenly you're a household name, your books printed in the thousands - the millions - in almost every major language known to man. But for most of us writing remains a labor of love (sometimes unrequited), even with several books under our belt. Some of us never get more than one or two books published. And evern for those who achieve more, writing remains a passion that at most, provides supplemental income to our 9-5 job. So, if you put down your law book, or medical notes to pick up a pen in order to obtain riches, you should know now that you chose poorly.
Okay. If you haven't thrown down your pen, your pencil, or (oh, I hope not) your laptop, and gone back to your law books or medical notes, then I guess you won't be dissuaded. You're in it for the long haul - more fool, you. And for you, here is how it's been for me, and likely, how it will be for you:
In the past year, I haven't gotten rich or famous. Agents and publishers have not come crawling out of the woodwork to offer me multi-book deals, and not a single supermodel has thrown herself at my feet (though there is a slight possibility that one or two have filed a restraining order, a slight misunderstanding that will all be worked out to everyone's satisfaction, I am sure). But what I have had is one co-worker whose son has vowed to buy anything I write. I've had the son of an editor praise my writing, and wonder when my next book will come out. Another person who said that she couldn't stop turning pages. I've had several people voice their pleasure - and displeasure - at the fate of a main character, and one pal, who has pretty much demanded that another character be given a book of his own. (His wife has threatened to send the ASPCA to my house for one scene with some animals.) To many of you, that will sound like small potatoes, and you'll wonder what the hell the point of it all was. The thing is, that actually IS the point, and if you can't see that, then I urge you to reconsider your law or medical degree.
See, that's the real coin of the realm for me, and, I suspect, many other writers. I remember what it was like reading Stephen King's Carrie, for the first time. Robert McGammon's Swan Song, William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. That delicious thrill of fear that demands you stop reading, even as it forces you to turn the page to find out what happens next. The idea that something I have written could excite that in someone reading my work - hell, of creating that for myself - is like an addict anticipating that next hit. And so I write.
Okay, so, I'm running long on this one. But I'm not done yet. I've got a few more thoughts on the things I've learned in the last year. I'd love to hear from others who have done so, or wish to, who would like to share their experiences.