Probably the biggest surprise for me when I decided to try my hand at becoming a novelist was how darned hard it was. After all, I’d always spun little stories in my head, or to amuse friends and family. making up stories came naturally to me. But I was completely unprepared for the sheer stick-to-itiveness necessary to produce an entire, full-length novel. Writing for a living sounded so easy before I actually sat down to do it!
When I first started, my plan was to write whenever the Muse struck…which I expected to happen with some sort of regularity. Ha ha ha! After six months following this “system” I’d only written a few chapters. I reluctantly realized that if I was ever going to finish the book, I needed to write every day while my toddlers napped, whether I felt “inspired” or not…which netted me a complete novel before the year was out.
The other really hard thing no one warned me about was how terrible it feels to get a bad review. My books are my babies, and it hurts—a lot!—when someone says (or implies) that my baby is ugly. It never mattered if I’d already received a hundred five star reviews for a book. No, it was always that single one or two star review disparaging my book that I obsessed over until I practically had it memorized. Finally, I heeded the advice of more experienced authors and stopped reading my reviews. (This is advice I highly endorse, by the way!)
On the positive side, I also didn’t realize going in what a wonderful rush it would be when my characters become real enough to surprise me on the page, taking my story in a different (and usually better!) direction than I originally had in mind. Or how it can redeem an otherwise crummy day to leave my desk having produced a few decent pages on the current book.
But the biggest, best “secret” nobody told me in advance was how very, very fabulous it feels to get a gushing letter or email from a happy reader. How could I not get choked up when I received this email a couple of weeks ago?
Dear Brenda Hiatt,
Yesterday was my birthday, and my mom got me the whole star-struck collection. I cried because I was so happy. I had been asking for them for 3 years. I had listened to the audible book (this is an exact number, I asked alexa how many times I'd heard it)
124 and a half times (I'm vacationing to mars again and I'm half way there). So thank you for all of the joy you have brought into my life. It helps me get through school. I can relate to Marsha (Amalaya) (well except for Rigel). So I just wanted to say thank you for all this joy you have brought me. Thank sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much.
This, this is why I write!
Okay, my daughter/narrator freaked out a little bit at the idea of anyone listening to her narration that many times. But for me, a note like this more than makes up for every bad review I've ever received and all the times I just didn't feel like writing. Hearing that I've touched a reader this way will send me back to the current book in progress every single time. So here's a huge thank you to every reader who has ever taken the time to let me, or any other author, know that you've loved a book!