This morning in the shower (why is it that some of our best thinking is done in the shower?), I started thinking about my writing "career" and the ups and downs it's taken. I realized something, too; that while I may have just finished writing my seventh novel, it's only the second young adult novel I will attempt to query. The first disaster was aimed at middle grade and the next three were all women's fiction. Friday was seriously stymied by the whole "paranormal is dead" thing, and I didn't query the one I wrote last November.
And the most important thing I realized was that this book, the one I just finished, the one I'm about to query, is exactly the kind of book I've always wanted to write but never thought I was capable of.
My whole life, I had this idea that I was meant to be a cheerleader, that the other people in my life (my sister and husband, mainly) were the smart, successful ones and it was my role to be their support system. You've probably heard this Edith Wharton quote before:
"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
See, I always thought I was the mirror.
I never thought I was very creative or original or capable of writing the kinds of books I love - high concept fantasy novels, particularly ones where the main character is an ordinary person flung into extraordinary circumstances. When I was young, I was desperate to find something about myself that was special, or at least an opportunity to prove that I was. And I've always been drawn to characters who think they're just average and end up finding out that isn't the case at all (Harry Potter and Bella from Twilight are two very obvious examples). Because who doesn't want to become the hero of their own story, to prove to everyone that there is more to you than meets the eye?
Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that I think I'm remarkable in any way or that this is the novel that's going to get me published. I'm just saying that I finally wrote the kind of book I'd want to read, and that feels like a big accomplishment. It also feels like maybe I won't always be the mirror. I guess we'll see...