December marks the anniversary of me choosing ME. And what a difference a year makes....
I've been a bit mopey lately, mostly because of the realization that I can't make it home to Pennsylvania for Christmas. It's a little depressing, the realization that I'll be working Christmas Eve and the day after, and in between I may be able to microwave a slice of ham to celebrate the holiday on my own. But that can be remedied. I may have to scrounge pennies to do it, but after the holidays I'm sure I can beg for a few days off to go visit the Mommy. And aside from the moping, I've been thinking about how things have changed since I moved to G'ville.
More than a year ago, things sucked. I was unemployed, running out of unemployment funds, and still unable to find a job, no matter what I did or where I looked. I'd loved and lost and wallowed. I was on the verge of being published, though struggling with the reality that I had no support system. I mean, seriously. When you're about to realize one of your biggest dreams, and someone you love pulls you aside to remind you that your dreams aren't really that important, things have to change.
A year ago, I was caught up in anger, grief, betrayal, wounded pride, hurt feelings and on and on. I was a passive-aggressive machine with pointy teeth.
And I hated what I'd turned into. But I realized that lashing out at what doesn't matter is tiring. It was time to eliminate the bad and open myself to the good. So, I made the sweeping changes. Packed my bags and left town. Cleaned out the muck and kept my eyes on the prize.
Leaving behind everything you know isn't easy. Trust me. And things don't magically fall into place. I'm still borderline destitute. Still trying to figure out how to get things on track, in some areas.
But today, a year later, I'm happy with what I have.
I may have loved and lost, but I'm still standing.
I've got a fat Christmas tree brightening my wee little apartment. It's December and I'm trying to find a short-sleeved shirt to wear today. Tomorrow will probably include a writing stint at my favorite little coffee shop, where placing my order becomes less and less necessary every visit. Because they KNOW I want that damn milkshake.
I live near a wonderful friend who I don't see enough because of my dumb work schedule. But she's close. And if I get desperate, I can text and beg for five minutes of sniffing her baby's head so I can try to absorb some of the essence of youth floating around the little guy.
I have support now. Friends without demands and expectations that must be lived up to in order to earn their approval. Friends who are just as supportive in the bad times as they are in the good times.
My paychecks suck, but I work with great people. It was nice to run in and wave my new publishing contract in the air while receiving high fives and pats on the back. No suggestions that I had a silly hobby or that I didn't deserve what I'd worked for. Just congratulations.
I love my new home. The funny accents, the crappy-but-entertaining driving habits of the residents, the city full of endless choices of things to do. A trip to the beach or a drive to the mountains takes no financial planning or schedule juggling. I smile every time I see that beautiful mountain backdrop framing the area, and I have to remind myself that trying to take a picture while driving is BAD.
Okay, I don't like that person who swiped my phone, but aside from that, G'ville has treated me well.
My writing has benefited from it all, too. Any doubts or fears I experience are simply side-effects of being a neurotic writer. Not because of anybody whispering in my ear that I don't deserve this. Today I'm trying to figure out which manuscript I should work on tomorrow. I have choices. Yay!
And of course, this week I get to celebrate a wonderful milestone: signing with Turquoise Morning Press! Daddy's Girl is on its way to print, and I couldn't be happier.
The timing of it all is perfect. I consider it my anniversary gift. My year of liberation culminating in placing my manuscript in good hands.
The offer came at the right time. There was a lot of musing happening in my head, since I'd started querying agents and publishers. See, I thought I wanted things that I didn't want.
I was taking the usual path: Begging for a shot at the big time. But as that first round of queries went out, I was questioning that goal. Over the last few weeks, as people have jokingly asked what I would do once I was famous, I kept fretting over the idea.
Reality hit. I don't want to be famous. I don't want to be Nicholas Sparks or Janet Evanovich, or lord help me, James Patterson. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams aren't my scene.
I want to write. I want to have an audience I can interact with. I like getting tweets from people who have read Drew in Blue and I love having the time to respond. I like the intimacy of that. I don't want PR people. I don't want to keep up with trends for the sake of keeping money flowing into my bank accounts.
I just want to write what I want to write. Real stories (and hopefully good stories) about real people. That makes me a small-press kind of girl.
Now, don't get me wrong. I want to make a living at writing someday. I just don't need to be a bazillionaire to do it.
The hardest thing to do was emailing an agent who had material, who had shown interest, and tell her that I was changing course. God, that sucked! This is someone I would have loved to rep me. A total dream agent. And I had to pass. Damn you, small-scale dreams! I hope I explained it well to her, because it was difficult to bow out and pay attention to the old gut.
So, yeah. That's where I stand right now. It's time to get off the couch and head to work, so no more rambling, you lucky bastards. I'm shutting up now.