If I had one piece of advice for aspiring writers (as if I can speak with authority...), it would be this: it's all right to cry, as long as you don't give up.
I just got back from Chapters, Pointe Claire, and I have in my possession a brand new book - signed by the author herself, Kelley Armstrong. She's actually quite down to earth, and she's mastered the art of the consistent smile - a genuine smile. I met her for the first time at the Festival of Fear and spoke with her briefly there, too. She's got a sense of community, too. I didn't realize this, but the proceeds from all sales of her Men of the Otherworld Series go to World Literacy of Canada! I admire that.
What else is cool is that I kinda "knew her when." I had first heard of Kelley Armstrong through Tobin Elliott - who at the time was "just" my creative writing teacher at Durham College, and who has since morphed into my butt-kicking mentor. At the time, just ten years ago, she had just sold Bitten. Now look: international fame and a list of titles as long as your leg. All that and a family too! Moms rule. (Just ask my mother.)
And in other news (old news, if you've been following my Facebook status...), I've had a request from EDGE Fantasy and Science Fiction Publishing for the complete manuscript! That's a very good sign. I'm not holding my breath, it's not a contract, it's nothing like that, but it's a good sign.
Unfortunately, the manuscript isn't quite where I wanted it to be. I'd wanted to get this draft finished before the start of October (because, ironically, I had a feeling I'd be getting an email from EDGE). But funny how two major call centre outages, the flu, food poisoning and a car accident can really set you back! Fortunately, I have a vacation starting tomorrow night. (Vacations - ha! I don't take vacations - I temporarily switch careers!)
But the closer I get to being published, the more I worry! Have I written something distinct enough that it won't be lost in the fad? Or have I written something so outrageously off-the wall that it'll be nigh impossible to market? Do I want to stick to fringe and cross-genre, or do I lean more toward what will sell the most, and capture the widest (paying) audience?
(And before you suggest it: I will write for me, first, no matter what - but if I want to SELL, I have to sell to the best possible market, right?)
And on top of that, tonight has really made me wonder - again. It started with Verna mentioning about her Capitol City Young Writers group, and it sprang up again tonight with Kelley Armstrong. At some point, if I'm able to make a sustainable living off my nefarious pursuits, how can I give back to the community?
So, I pose the question back to you! (I like doing that - why should I be the only one writing? That would be boring.) I've thought of signing books in exchange for non-perishable food items or for a cash donation to Food Banks Canada. But what other suggestions do you have?