The life of a full-time writer seems so sublime. Who wouldn’t want to work in silk pajamas or jet off to New York for a power lunch with an editor? The notion was extremely tempting to me, a single mother struggling to support my family with a job I hated. But publish a novel? I probably had a better chance of becoming a supermodel. Still I dared to record my far-fetched fantasy in my journal, thinking that if I saw it on the page in black and white, it might be obtainable.
I began my journey with baby steps, writing for the weekly newspaper. Seeing my byline on the page buoyed my confidence. After getting regular freelance assignments, I began to think of myself as a writer instead of a dabbler. Though money was tight, I bought a laptop. It was my way of saying, “I will make my dream happen.”
I completed my first novel, stealing minutes here and there. Once I finished, I took my work to a writers’ conference, hoping to be discovered. Instead, I was told my novel wasn’t marketable, and that getting a book published was “more difficult than rocket science.”
Despite setbacks, I continued to nurture my goal. I began a new novel, started a critique group, and learned everything I could about the publishing business. I sent queries to agents, and after a few rewrites secured an agent. Then, at last, I got the call I’d dreamed of. I was offered a three-book contract with a major New York publishing company.
Today I’m a full-time writer, and although I wear cotton pajamas for work instead of silk, lunches with my editor are no longer the stuff of fantasy. It took ten years, but I’ll always remember that my new life began with a simple sentence written in a notebook.
Karin Gillespie is the author of BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR, a humorous Southern novel which will be released by Simon and Schuster in July 2004. The novel is the first in the BOTTOM DOLLAR GIRL series, and has been selected by the Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs as featured alternates. Please visit her writer-friendly blog and web site at http://www.karingillespie.com/.