Monday, December 19, 2011

Grace's Christmas List

I am the luckiest lady imaginable. In the past year, Sourcebooks, Inc., has put four books on the shelves for me, one of which, “The Heir,” was a PW Best Book for 2010, while “The Soldier” was an honorable mention Best of the Best for The Library Journal in 2011, and “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish” was nominated for RT’s Best Historical Romance of 2011. The first two books made bestsellers lists, a gift that does not befall many talented writers in the course of long, hard-working careers.

What could I possible want for Christmas? A Nobel prize? An antidote to global warming? A cure for common cold?

I shouldn’t want anything for Christmas for myself. Christmas has come in the past year so often, I ought to change my address to the North Pole. And yet…

I am human, and I have been a reasonably good girl, sooo….

What I want for Christmas, for my life, is wisdom, perspective and good company. I want these things badly and I want them largely as a function of having become a published writer.

Along with all the big fun and good times, being a tadpole author has meant some rough patches as well. There have been some strongly critical reviews, and they have thrown me into a tailspin of doubt and bewilderment. There have been difficult decisions regarding the business end of publication, and making those decisions has been a lonely proposition. Then there’s the utterly confusing state of the entire publishing industry, and the befuddlement in store for anybody trying to ensure that book sales are strong. We’re told to blog, facebook, tweet, website, social network, and yet, nobody seems to know for sure if those tasks sell books, or simply channel anxiety about selling books.

I get daunted by these challenges, I lose my way with the writing, I forget the good news and make a mantra of the problems.

I’d like to find the wisdom to let the doubt and bewilderment bounce off me. I want to keep the problems in a healthier perspective—an unkind review hardly matters compared to poor health, homelessness, or a marriage in trouble. Fortunately, I’m stumbling onto some coping mechanisms, and maybe these are the Christmas gifts I need to make sure I find under the tree.

First, when I’m discouraged, the most helpful thing I can do is encourage somebody else. When I enjoy a book, I make sure to do an online review of it in as glowing terms as I can manage. I judge contests to try to give back to aspiring writers the generosity shown me when I was among their numbers. I thank people—it’s easy to forget this—and I positively wallow in the acknowledgements paragraph for each book.

Second, I try to protect the writing by “hermitting,” usually by spending time alone at home, but also by driving to the West Coast and back. The noise fades, the ideas come, and the joy seeps back in when I’m holed up in my imagination.

Third, I try to put myself in the company of positive people, people with a constructive outlook on their lives and (if applicable) their writing. Company such as this steadies me and helps me return to the pure pleasure of writing romance novels.

For Christmas this year, I wish you progress toward your heart’s desire, and—just in case you could use them too—I also wish you wisdom, perspective and good company.

Unless there’s something else you’d like to find under your personal tree?

12 comments:

  1. I think those are awesome things to wish for. I hope you get all of them, Grace!

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  2. Grace - you never fail to amaze me with your insight and wisdom. I would only add to your list with a request for super-human writing speed so that I can make all my deadlines.

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  3. Shana--I do wonder where that partridge and a pear tree routine came from. There are so many things more worth wishing for...

    Robin, just focus, focus, focus. You have the speed--I've seen you do it--and you're building up the stamina. This time next year, you'll be finishing a MS every week.

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  4. Listen to Grace. Grace is wise. ;-)

    I'm a natural hermit, and I find it serves my writing well, keeping me focused on the aspect of this business I know I control. I'm also excited that we're coming into contest season - I received my Golden Heart judging packets late last week and have already had a couple of GREAT reads!

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  5. Excellent post, Grace! Decisions, decisions. I so agree! I have found that the huge guest blog tour has helped new readers to learn about my work, and it has kept my sales ranking in the best seller list on Amazon, at least. But it's been a lot of work, particularly when Christmas is coming and my daughter's getting married again. First one was the unfancy one this summer, this is the fancy one, the 2nd weekend in Jan. So sometimes we just have to take a break and be with family, leave all the writing behind for a a little bit. (I'll be getting up SUPER early in the morning to comment on guest blog posts the whole time they visit...just can't leave it all behind. LOL)

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  6. Grace, like most people this time of year, I've been extremely busy and at times flustered. I found your post calming and comforting. Thanks,
    Amelia

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  7. Grace - you are such a gifted author from my point of view. Your writing is from a romantic's point of view and not just the slap and tickle erotica that some like and that where a line needs to be drawn clearer in the world of Romance Novels.
    I am not a writer but do reviews and I refuse to write a negative review. Authors work to hard and long to have their work ripped apart and discouraged. Kudos to all of you gals with your patience, perseverence and hard work!!!!!
    One of my Christmas wishes would be for all of you authors to get your due for making our lives a bit easier to cope with in a world that is far to hard and dangerous. Blessings for a wonderful 2012 and Merry Christmas to all.
    huggs,
    Terra Studer
    Yankee Romance Reviewers

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  8. You have expressed beautifully things I've been feeling for a while. May all your Christmas wishes come true!

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  9. Grace, I absolutely adored this post. You are smart, funny and write from the heart. I'm sure 2012 will bring many more xmas like days your way. You rock.
    Best,
    Sara

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  10. Terry, I hear you. Blog tours wait for no author, but we're lucky to have them. I have friends writing for NY houses who think a half dozen blogs is a "tour." Hmm. I actually like the blog tours, though by the end, I'm glad to be "home."

    Amelia, growing up, my parents had a tradition where after Christmas Eve dinner, we'd turn out EVERY light, light candles, and listen to Dad read the Nativity gospel. It was story hour by any other name, and we were programmed to calm down as a result. The candle light was a very nice touch, too.

    Terra S, I would vote for you for President, except that's a thankless miserable task in the best of times. Thanks for coming by with some cheer, and some cheering--we can all use it.

    Amanda, thanks, because if I listed ALL of my wishes, I'd be hogging the blog into next year.

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  11. Those are good wishes, but I'd settle for making a bestseller list sometime. Congrats on your success!

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  12. Grace, you have echoed many of my own feelings! You are truly a fantastic writer, whether it be books or blogs.

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