Last week, I had the great opportunity to fly to New York for my first "official" meeting as a writer...
As The Far Empty winds its way to publication, I met with Putnam's marketing and publicity folks to discuss publicity opportunities, including a possible book tour, radio spots, etc. Everyone at Putnam was gracious, supportive, and enthusiastic, and it was the first time I've been in a room full of people who've actually read my book. I loved hearing their questions about the novel, as well as their comments and compliments.
And the morning before my meeting, I got a little writing done in New York...
When I signed with my agent, I felt like a real "writer" for the first time. During my meeting with my publisher, I felt like a true "author."
Here's the thing though, I was no more, or no better, a writer after I signed with my agent than I was before, and at the moment I finished my first book, I already was an author. These benchmarks on the path to publication are great (and you should always remind yourself to enjoy them along the way), but it's also important not to give them greater weight than necessary. Even with an agent, I have to continue to hone my craft and become even a better writer, and even with the support of a publisher, there's no guarantee that I can or will maintain a writing career.
Validation is important, but it's not the prize itself, and it's no substitute for work. Similarly, a lack of immediate recognition or validation does not mean you're not a talented writer and don't have important things to say. As an artist/writer, you have to make sure that you define success not only by those things that happen outside your writing room, but by the words you're putting down on the page itself.
If you're happy with the work and if you're telling the stories you want to tell, you're always going to be a success. And that's the most important thing of all.
As always, keep writing - JTS