Five years ago today, my first book, Across the Universe was published.
Five years ago today, I was, for the first time, "a real author."
Five years ago today, my dreams came true.
I've changed a lot in five years. My writing has continued to grow--in July, I'll have five novels and three nonfiction books published! My life has continued to grow--my family has added a baby, my career has added new dimensions, my friendships have shifted and evolved, my worldview has expanded with more travel and opportunities, my ideas of my future have been enhanced.
One of my favorite quotes from the Harry Potter series is when Ginny tells Harry that "Nothing is impossible if you've got enough nerve."
There is something about having all your dreams come true that makes you believe in the impossible.
Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a writer. I wanted it all: I wanted to spin words into stories, I wanted people to read them, I wanted to know that my words made a difference. And this dream of mine was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I have seen people without a driving dream to center their lives upon, and I live in fear of that hollowness. A curse because nothing hurts more than the uncertainty of a dream unlived.
I have talked a lot about the long part of the journey, because I feel it's important for aspiring writers and other dreamers to know that becoming a professional writer isn't about "being touched by a muse." You don't wake up with glitter in your eyes and tap out a perfect story in your ivory tower. It's work, and sometimes it's heartbreaking, and it's important to know that there's no such thing as an overnight success.
But I haven't talked much about the night I finished writing Across the Universe.
I was scared.
I was terrified.
I had studied the market. I knew that there wasn't much sci fi out there. Orson Scott Card, Hunger Games, and Stephanie Meyer's The Host were the only sci fi books my local bookstore offered in the YA section. And, frankly, they were among the only sci fi I'd ever read. I felt supremely unqualified to write science fiction. I didn't write science fiction--I wrote Amy and Elder's story, and it happened to be science fiction.
But I wasn't sure if it was good enough.
I only knew it was the best I could do. I never felt that way about a book before. Sure, I loved what I wrote. I believed in what I wrote. But I never had this weight inside of my chest, pressing down on my stomach, telling me that this was the best I could do.
I knew, when I finished writing the last chapters in a flurry of clacking computer keys, I knew that was the best I had ever done. Possibly the best I could ever do.
Which meant that if that book didn't succeed, I should give up. Because I couldn't do better than that, and if my best wasn't good enough, I wasn't good enough.
I knew, when I typed "The End" on Across the Universe that if I couldn't get that book published, I should quit.
"Nothing is impossible if you've got enough nerve." It wasn't nerve that made me submit Across the Universe to agents. It was desperation. It was fear.
It was one last, final, desperate shot.
And now, five years later, I can say with absolute certainty and joy: It was absolutely worth it!
People ask me if I could go back in time and tell myself about how everything would change, would I? Would I give hope to five-years-ago-me and reassure myself that it will all work out--far better than I ever dared to dream?
The fear was good. The trying-anyway was good. The doubt was good.
Because it has made me believe in the impossible.
Help me celebrate five years of Across the Universe! Post a picture of any of my books on social media, and tag it with #5YearsofATU. At the end of the week, I'll select one winner to receive a signed copy of all my fiction--that's a signed copy of Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth, The Body Electric AND A World Without You!
This is the FIRST time I'm holding a giveaway for A World Without You...and will be the only chance you have to win it for months. Giveaways for this book won't start until April...except now.
- The post must contain a picture of any of my books plus the hashtag #5YearsOfATU
- Ebooks totally count
- Post must be public so I can see it and count it as an entry
- I will compile entries from Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram. All posts count.
- If you post on another social media platform, post the link in the comments here so I'm sure to count it.
- Winner will be announced Sunday, January 17. I'll stop counting entries at midnight.
- This is international.