I got published. Yes, me, Sahar, I have a book on the shelves.
I dreamt of this day for a long time, but it often felt like the odds of getting published were decreasing proportionally to the growing pile of rejection letters on my desk. I held on to those letters for the longest time, using them as motivation. I wanted to prove all the publishers who turned me down wrong by getting published.
It does make for an amusing anecdote and would have made for a pretty cool, Bridget-Jones-meets-Julia-Child moment had I kept those letters. I could have grabbed them and laughed maniacally as I reviewed my contract, for example. I could have made a bonfire and cackled as I threw the letters one by one into the flames. Or something to that extent.
But I am very glad I threw them away. After all, being rejected doesn’t always have to do with the writing; it just doesn’t fit the publisher’s needs at time of submission, until the day when magic happens: the right manuscript to fall in the lap of the publisher happens to be yours, and you get that incredible phone call.
I received the first copies of my book, The Spirit Within Club, a little over two months ago. I ripped the box open, almost in a frenzy, reach in and pulled out a beautiful book with a gorgeous cover (courtesy of my friend Reza) featuring my name. I recalled that infamous pile of rejection letters and felt grateful for every single one of them: each had increased my drive to go over my manuscript over and over again, ironing out little details and rewriting each chapter and polishing it to an even brighter shine.
Although it has been a short while and my book has just reached the shores of North America (the publisher, George Ronald, is London-based), the number of questions I have been asked by writers hoping to be published has been a tad bit overwhelming on the one hand and very interesting on the other. After all, these were questions that I myself had had not that long ago.
One of my concerns was that the advice I was given was so straightforward; how could it be this simple to publish a book? But if I was able to go back in time, I would give the exact same advice to myself, because really, it is that uncomplicated.
It goes a little something like this: first, write about something you love. While you should be aware of the market, you should focus on what you feel passionately about, even if it doesn’t fit into the mainstream. Second, write. Write some more. Write a little bit more. And when you think you have written enough, add a couple of pages to your portfolio.
This means that, thankfully enough, I don’t have to invent a time machine to go back five years. What a relief – I have neither a DeLorean nor Libyan contacts to get myself some plutonium (I could ask Seth).
And now you will have to forgive me: I am going to go stare at the cover of my book and grin.