I haven’t seen the movie Precious. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pick Academy Award-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe out of a police lineup.
But I recently read a quote that made me want to grab her by the face and lick her ear (or something equally affectionate):
“They [the press] try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life and then I got this role and now I'm awesome,” she said. “But the truth is that I've been awesome, and then I got this role."
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
In recent weeks, casual acquaintances who’ve learned of my recent three-book deal with Sourcebooks have asked me how it feels.
What’s it like to know you’re finally good enough to sell a book?
Want to know the answer I can’t give them because I don’t want to sound like an egotistical bitch?
I was always good enough to sell a book. It just took awhile for the right editor to realize it.
Look, I’m not saying I didn’t have a lot to learn, and I’ve certainly written some craptastic stuff over the years. Even the book I originally sold to Harlequin/Silhouette’s Bombshell line back in 2005 is something I’m happy to leave tucked under my bed. I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then, and I’m much happier with the way I write now.
But if I hadn’t believed from the first moment I started writing fiction in 2002 that I was good enough to be published, I doubt I could have held on for the duration of my bumpy ride to publication.*
As an author, you have to believe that. Even on days you don’t believe it, you need to stand there in front of the mirror and say, “Dammit, I rule.”
Or some variation on that.
I’m lucky. My parents bestowed upon me a disturbingly high self-esteem, and my husband & agent believed in me no matter how many rejections rolled in. That’s a big part of how I kept going despite all the setbacks along the way.
That, and a lot of Chianti.
Getting published isn’t about who you know, who you shag, or even how well you write. It’s about believing in yourself enough to keep going no matter how many times someone slaps you on the ass and says, “close, but no cigar.”
So let’s all say it together now, shall we?
I’m awesome. I’ve always been awesome. I’m awesome whether it takes me 12 days or 12 years to get published.
Repeat as often as necessary until you believe it.
*If you’re new to this blog and don’t know what I’m talking about, go here for the full story of my rather lengthy road to publication.