This week, one of my assigned exercises in The Artist’s Way is to create a list of creative accomplishments. (This is a variation of a wonderful exercise that Julia Cameron calls the Ta DA! List. Not many of us instinctively make this list – we go with the To Do list – but we should do it.) The timing of this is quite interesting as April is an anniversary for me.
In April 1991, I sold my first book, a medieval romance called The Romance of the Rose to Harlequin Historicals. So, this month is the twentieth anniversary of my first sale.
Just typing those words is astonishing. Twenty years!
And what’s happened in those twenty years? Well, a lot. The most obvious accomplishment is that I’ve written and published forty-five books. There are three more in production for publication this year. (We won’t count the ones that I wrote but which were never sold or published.) I have no idea how many short stories and novellas I’ve written, sold and published. More than a dozen. (Maybe two dozen.)
I’ve written those books under a number of names and in a number of subgenres of romance – medieval, paranormal, contemporary, time travel, fantasy, apocalyptic – as well as paranormal young adult. I’ve written for eight different publishers and have worked with at least fifteen editors, some of them several times. I’ve been with my agent for fourteen years and still think he’s the best in the business.
I’ve been published in trade paperback, mass market paperback and hard cover. I’ve seen my work published in many different languages – German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, and others – as well as in separate UK editions. I have an entire bookcase dedicated to print copies of my books and it’s full. (That, in itself, is astonishing. There are four full shelves of my books in there. Wow.)
I’ve won numerous awards and honours, been nominated for even more awards, routinely made the USA Today bestseller list and have been on the New York Times list of bestselling books. I have seen my books in bookstores and airport kiosks and convenience stores. I have met strangers reading my books (gah! the classic airplane encounter!), and I have heard from readers and fans from all over the world. (That’s good stuff.) I’ve participated in some incredible booksignings and had a lot of great reviews (as well as the inevitable crummy ones). I stopped keeping scrapbooks after filling the fourth one – there’s a whole carton of clippings in the closet in case I ever get around to organizing scrapbooks again. Right now, I have writing to do.
I’ve taught workshops by the bucketful, met hundreds – if not thousands – of other writers, belonged to numerous writing groups, given keynote speeches and attended so many wonderful conferences. In 2009, I was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, which was an awesome experience.
I’ve made good friends in this business, as well as learning a great deal about writing, publishing and storytelling.
It’s quite amazing to look back on these past twenty years, because in many ways, the time seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. In another way, I can’t remember ever doing anything else. There certainly is nothing else that I want to do.
And so, please raise your cup of coffee of tea (or whatever!) with me, and salute those books, writers, editors and years. Here’s to the next twenty years! (I’m going to buy another bookcase just to be ready…)