Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You Gotta Believe

As a kid, I learned the truth of this statement through sports. No matter what, on any given day, any team can win, any player can be a hero or a goat. Last February, my husband and I had a few days in Las Vegas, and true to my optimistic nature, I bet $5 on the 2007 World Series winners and the 2008 Superbowl winners (Yeah, I'm not a real big spender.) The guy at the betting booth chuckled when I told him my teams. I could just hear him thinking, "Yeah, right, Lady. The Cubs and the Packers?" But they're my teams. And while there's no guarantee (and my fingers are firmly crossed which makes it hard to type), the Packers are 3-0 and the Cubs are looking at a magic number of 4. You Gotta Believe.

3 years ago, I had just signed with my agent after writing and querying for 5 years.

Then, 3 months later, she sent it out to editors and within a few weeks we'd gotten a great offer from Random House. (To be honest, she assured me it was a great offer. At that point, I would have signed for a few copies of my book.) There had definitely been moments in the preceding years when I'd been ready to pack it in. Give it up. I was an unknown middle-aged, single mom, school teacher from the Midwest. It really doesn't get more out of the loop than that. But, my agent believed in my book (God bless her) and I had friends who never let me give up (Bless them too). And, deep in my heart, I knew I believed in my story, in my writing. And then other folks did too. The publishing house. Bookstore owners who handsold it. The marketing folks who got it out there.

And finally, the readers who found it, talked about it, and got others to buy it.

I had to believe
. That's one of the mantras of published writers--if you give up, the only thing you know for certain is that you'll never be published. Every published author, even the huge bestselling ones, were at one time unknown debut wannabees.

You don't have to just take my word for it, Therese Fowler writes about this more eloquently (natch) than I can here.

Just when I thought I couldn't be surprised any more, the foreign contracts started to come in. To be honest, it seemed like Monopoly money--Germany? Finland and Sweden? Most recently, the Netherlands and China. No languages I can read, of course, but to think that there are people in countries I've never even set foot in, where as far as I know my mother has no pull, who will stumble across my book and read it--I still can't completely wrap my brain around that. Somebody (or several somebodies) believes in me all across the globe. It's pretty cool.

So whatever it is, a contract, an agent, a spot in the playoffs, an amazing record-setting season for Brett Favre, you gotta believe. It's easy. Just do it.


The Writers' Group said...

This is beautiful. Thank you.


Ello said...

THat's awesome! I read this after Amy's post on Dr. Pausch's last lecture. Both are incredibly inspiring, although I cried during Dr. Pausch's video.

Congratulations on your foreign sales! That is wonderful. I know I will keep believing too.

Lynne Reeves Griffin RN, MEd said...

I so pleased you did! Congrats on the foreign sales. And thanks for reminding us--it happens. Lynne

kristen said...

Judy, this is great! And you are so right. I don't know about team sports, I tend to be a fickle fan, but believing in your book--that's easy! Congrats on the foreign sales.

No doubt there are more good things to come...maybe for all of us?

Therese said...

For me, native to the Illinois Quad Cities, it was The Bears and The Cubs (note capitalization).

I do evangelize about authorhood, it's true. Belief that I could be a person whose book would get shelf space in my favorite book stores has pulled me through bleak times.

Thanks for "eloquently," but you're doing a fine job yourself. :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Thanks, Amy. It's also true.

Ello, so glad I could inspire you. Keep at it.

Lynne, thanks, and you're proof of it too!

Kristen, count on it.

Therese, you're right--if we don't believe in our writing, how can anyone else?

Lisa said...

Thank you for this inspirational post!

Larramie said...

Just thinking about the mothers, throughout the world, who will be touched by and grateful for your novel gives me goose bumps. *sigh*

Now, regarding your sports wagers, I'll give you Green Bay as Super Bowl champs, Judy. But as for The World Series, we shall see... ;)

Carleen Brice said...

Very cool!

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Well, I'm trying to believe in the Cubs, but they just keep making it so darn hard!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lisa and Carleen--thanks for stopping by. I, for one, believe in both of you.

Larramie--Hey, I'd be fine with an Indians-Cubs matchup.

Melanie--I know, it's like they've suddenly realized, "Oh yeah, we're the Cubs." Sheesh.

Carleen Brice said...

How cool are you, Judy?! Thanks!!! I really appreciate that!

reality said...

Thank you for the inspiration. And congratulations.

Eileen said...

Amazing post- so much more meaningful than my discussion of laundry.

I think the foreign sales are the most interesting. I'm waiting for copies to show up in Russian. I don't know why I care- just that I do...

Mel said...

I've been talking about this in the writing forum I attend and to me this is the hardest selling point. If you don't believe in your writing how can you make someone else believe in it?

I loved the post and yes when you find the paper on commas. You can send me a direct link to it somehow or we'll figure out a way.

Oh, I came from the Debs.

Carleen Brice said...

Tag, you're it! It's a book meme!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Reality--glad I could inspire. Andd thanks.

Eileen--Laundry is one of my procrastination/writer's block devices. Russia? How cool. The foreign sales are really wild.

Mel--Exactly. If you don't believe your writing is good enough, why should anybody else? That said, I certainly have days I look at what I'm working on and think it's complete crap. As soon as I figure out how to link a document with my comma rules, I will. Or maybe I'll just post it.

Carleen--Working on it.

Sustenance Scout said...

Just tried to post a comment and got an error. Don't you hate that?! :) I'm simply glad I stopped by, Judy. This post alone is a prize. Congratulations and thanks for your encouraging insights! K.