Ah, Friday the 13th. Generator of bad-luck legends and B movies. To me the date has meant good luck ever since I met my husband on one of those star-crossed days a long, long time ago.
So okay, we only had some twelve years together before he died, but I was fortunate enough to be struck by Cupid’s dart twice and I spent another twenty-two years with Real-Life Hero #2 before he, too, passed.
But as I muse on this humongous circle from then to today, I realize that this date has been good luck for me, in the way making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is good. Unlikely, but good. Because of that first traumatic loss way back when, I began a diary wherein I raged at God and the world, where I poured out my heart and transferred all my emotion from brain to pen to page (yes, this was before I owned a typewriter, never mind a computer).
One day I looked back at all I had written and realized there was a story there. Somewhere. A story that, having bought a used IBM Selectric (remember them? With the bouncing ball of type?), I began pulling out of my brain. Elite 12 type much smaller than the Courier 10 of traditional submissions, 512 pages’ worth squeezed 27 lines per page—probably in the neighborhood of 130,000 words, but who knew to count?— I shipped it off with a feeling of accomplishment.
Can you say “crushed”? I was, when I promptly received a rejection, saying it sounded like…a diary. A story needed a beginning, a middle and an end, it said, and yours had nothing but rambling. Unsaid was, “and don’t bother us again.”
After crying and moping for several days (“this is REAL LIFE! A story doesn’t get any more emotional than this!”) I noticed the local community college offered a writing class, so I paid my tuition and went. Talk about eye-opener. When I read parts of this rejected masterpiece to the class, one of the critiquers said, “I was bored.”
I was crushed. Again.
So began a long journey to publication. Twelve years of assiduously applying butt to chair, of joining writers’ groups and critique groups, of form-letter rejections (one recipient even sent back my SASE with a stamped “No thanks” on the envelope and nothing inside), then of more personal rejections like “Send me the next thing you write”, and finally, ACCEPTANCE!
Everyone’s path is different—through life, to publication. What I’ve learned in both cases, every aspiring author has probably heard time and time again. Never. Give. Up. I gave up writing at least two dozen times, both before and after The Call. Ask KQ.
By the way, I’m still giving up. After #2 beloved died, I didn’t write for two years. Couldn’t get excited over some fictional person’s problems or love life. Then I felt strong enough to retire from my day job, which had given me a reason to get up every morning, and I slogged through another year of…nothing. Oh, sure, I read 226 books in 2008, but didn’t start writing again until the sun began shining longer into the afternoon last month and I realized I must have had Seasonal Affective Disorder (blame anything except myself!). So now that Spring is almost here, I have no excuse.
Yes, to those who may think to ask. Yes, I’m finishing Rolf’s story (the youngest of the Thorvald brothers in my DANCE series). Yes, I’m writing a novella of a scandalous triangle set, of all places, in 1693 Massachusetts Bay Colony. Yes, I have a heroine and an inciting incident for the son of my hero in SECOND BEST and will get to Cliff’s story soon.
For I have come full circle. I’m writing again, I’m out in the world and looking for love again, and Friday the 13th seems a good time to talk about it. Because luck is what you make it.
—Cris Anson’s DANCE series for Ellora’s Cave consistently garnered five-star reviews. Her latest releases, for Cerridwen Press, feature twin brothers: FIRST TO DIE (an “Outstanding Read” from Simply Romance Reviews and a “Golden Blush Recommended Read” from Literary Nymphs Reviews) and SECOND BEST (five bookmarks from Wild On Books). Read more on her website, www.crisanson.com or at www.myspace.com/crisanson