For as long as I can remember, I craved what I thought of as the Literary Life. Being surrounded by other
writers. Having deadlines. Casually mentioning meeting my editor for lunch. Fame, fortune, and all the trappings. But perhaps I had put the cart before the horse. I had to get something published before I could live the Literary Life. Didn’t I?
That dream was put on hold while I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
Then in one astonishing year, I sold my first short story and my first novel. My family prepared for the life of leisure on the island my royalties would purchase until harsh reality intruded. Unless you hit the New York Times bestseller list, don’t quit your day job.
On a drive to the Florida Keys to visit Hemingway House, I experienced a revelation. After years of craving the Literary Life, I had finally earned my place in that world, no matter how humble. I might not have the stature of Hemmingway, but I was a Published Author. I should be savoring the victory. Instead, I felt deflated.
I had accomplished my goal of publication. Now where were the rewards I had so long anticipated reaping?
Redefining Fame and Fortune:
- Fortune: Non-writers seem to think that once you sell a book, you have won a magic lottery ticket. They view you with skepticism when your small press novel is not available on the shelf at the local brick and mortar bookstore. It can be humbling to explain why you are still working the day job. That initial thrill of holding a modest advance or royalty check can fade quickly. Yes, I have actually had people ask how much I was paid for a story or novel. Those same folks would not dream of asking how much my day job pays. I had to learn to politely tell people to mind their own budget. I am doing what I love. Stephen King and J. K. Rowling didn’t make their fortunes with their first story or book.
- Fame: I sat next to a well-known cozy author at a library event. She regaled me with tales of the early days, when her New York publisher sent her on book tours, picking up the tab for travel and nice hotels. It was like meeting Snow White and hearing about the fairy tale castle and Prince Charming. Those days are gone for all but the biggest names. My fame moments have come unexpectedly, at a conference when someone bought my book and asked me to autograph it, or at the day job when coworkers introduced me to visitors as the company author. Savor these bits of glory, for the flecks of gold can meld into substantial nuggets with time.
The lesson I am learning is to enjoy the present moment. Stop to smell the roses, carpe diem and all that. I am living the Literary Life right now. My focus on an imaginary future kept me from realizing I was living it all along, well before I became published.
I might not own an island. Yet. But I do hang out with other writers, I have deadlines, and I’ve had breakfast with my editor. This is my fame, fortune, and all the trappings, and I’m going to enjoy it to the max. I have recaptured the joy of writing, and I’m finally reveling in the Literary Life!
Have you had a low moment on your publication journey? What did it take to rekindle your love of writing?
About Catherine Dilts
To Catherine Dilts, rock shops are like geodes – both contain amazing treasures hidden inside their plain-as-dirt exteriors. Catherine caught mountain fever after a childhood vacation in Rocky Mountain National Park. Determined to give up her flat–lander ways, she moved from Oklahoma to Colorado. Her husband, a Colorado native, proposed to her as they hiked Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. Catherine works as an environmental scientist, and plays at heirloom vegetable gardening, camping, and fishing. Her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. In her spare time, she attempts to lure wild donkeys to her property in the mountains.
Synopsis of Stone Cold Case
Rock shop owner Morgan Iverson’s discovery of human remains reopens a cold case and unhealed wounds in a Colorado mountain town, while her find of a rare gemstone sparks a dangerous treasure hunt.
Sixteen years ago, prom queen Carlee Kruger vanished. When Carlee’s mother asks Morgan to investigate her death, the clues seem as convoluted as the coils on a fossilized ammonite. The hunt for the truth heats up as the local newspaper editor helps Morgan uncover the past. The rock shop’s mascot donkeys and an elderly cowboy chase after a Sasquatch look-alike who may hold the key to Carlee’s death. Whoever knows what happened to Carlee will do anything to keep the truth buried.
In book two of the Rock Shop Mystery series, amateur sleuth Morgan Iverson digs into gemstone prospecting to solve a Stone Cold Case.
Kirkus review for Stone Cold Case
Stone Cold Case – A Rock Shop Mystery
ISBN # 9781432830991
Release date September 16, 2015 by Five Star – Cengage