A couple of years ago I went through a period where I seriously contemplated giving up on writing as a career. I’d had books published, and was proud of that, but I had a very long spell of rejections, while the publisher of my first trade title went out of business, and the books I had had published didn’t seem to be selling.
What kept me going was a combination of the inability to give up (I write because I can’t not write), the support of a wonderful bunch of writer friends and my family, and pure stubbornness. I kept writing and submitting and learning, and eventually more acceptances came and things got back on track.
So why am I telling you all this now? Because I have just had an amazing week, a week I would not have had if I had given up on that dream.
Firstly, on Monday night, a little piece of fortuitous camera placement meant that Pearl Verses the World inadvertently appeared on the ABC News. The Prime Minister was interviewed in a school library and there, behind her, was a copy of my book. Although I missed seeing it, a writer friend saw it and let me know – and I was able to Google it and find this still image. It’s a little less clear here because it’s just one shot, but still way cool for me to see my book over the Prime Minister’s left shoulder.
On Tuesday, as I read the West Australian newspaper at breakfast time, I was surprised to see the cover of Toppling in the Ed Magazine (the schools supplement), and, below it, a lovely review, describing Toppling as ‘a verse novel which simply and movingly tells the story of a boy’s battle with cancer.’
On Wednesday came the announcement that Pearl Verses the World had won the Family Therapists’ Literary Award for Younger Readers. This is a lovely thing to win, with the judges saying: ‘Pearl draws on both previous experiences and generational insights to assist in the grieving process and to hone her self-reliance, which helps her negotiate peer relationships and school.’
And on Thursday, as if there wasn’t enough good news coming my way, the shortlists for the 2009 WA Premier’s Literary Awards were announced – and Pearl Verses the World is shortlisted in the Children’s Books category.
I’m not sure I’ll ever have another week with so much good news so close together, and that’s okay – because this week will keep me going for a long time. To all who have tweeted and emailed and messaged me on Facebook, or simply smiled as they’ve heard my news – thank you.
I’m glad I didn’t give up, not that I’m sure I really could have. Life is good.