Yes, yes I did.
Last night, my local Barnes and Noble had a Local Author’s Event, where I, along with about 12 other authors, had a ring of tables where we all spoke a little bit about our books and our lives, and all sorts of things.
For 10 minutes, anyway.
I was concerned, because I’m known to ramble on about things. And I didn’t want to run off, and wind up having to have the microphone ripped out of my hand, so I decided to prepare a speech.
Over Prepared, that’s probably more what happened.
But I did, I wrote out a speech, a sort of story about myself and my journey as a writer, and printed it off. And practiced it quite a bit to make sure it sounded right, and that I got all the points in it I wanted.
It went really well.
Everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Probably except the man I was sitting next to, because I was so nervous, I was afraid I smelled. (I get sweaty when I’m nervous. I know. TMI)
Anyway, I thought I’d share my actual speech here, in a readable form.
“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.”Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek TNG, “Peak Performance”
Been seeing that quote pop up on my Facebook feed a lot this last week, probably due to the new Star Trek series coming out, but the quote has really resonated with me.
It is one of those rare truths. No matter who we are, the idea speaks to us all. That we all can do things absolutely right, and still lose.
We can still win, of course.
But often times, we lose, too.
That’s when we learn.
We learn to get back up and move forward. Even if it’s hard.
My name is Candice Gilmer.
I write romance novels.
I have been writing them for a very long time.
Long enough to publish two dozen books.
Long enough that I’ve hit the New York Times bestseller list once, and the USA Today list three times.
And, long enough to be a loser in a Winners-Take-All world.
Not that I’ve failed anything.
But I’ve had to restart the race several times.
And I’m sure, I probably will again.
Every time, the writing brought me back. It made me get back up.
I published my first book in 2008, when my son was just a drooly poop machine that loved to giggle.
He has never known what it was like to have a mommy who didn’t have a stack of published books sitting around the house. Or what it was like to see his mommy cry after yet another slew of rejection letters came in because more agents and publishers said that Mommy “just wasn’t good enough.”
He’s always had a published mommy.
Of course, he thought everyone’s mommies wrote books, at least, until he was in school.
I thought I was on Easy Street when I finally landed that first contract. After years of classes, cons and rejections, I thought I’d finally done it. I’d become a published author. Therefore, I must be living the dream.
The words came easy. I wrote, and wrote and wrote. Because I had a contract. So therefore, I was amazing, right?
That’s what they all used to say—that you’re amazing when you land a contract, because you’re better than ninety percent of the authors that come through pipeline.
Well, you’re amazing, or you had just the right thing, at just the right time.
Probably the latter.
Then I got another contract.
Before I knew it, I had 7 books out with 2 different publishers.
I was more than just an author, I was a 7-time published author.
How amazing is that?
And then I stumbled. Face down in the dirt, because I made some not-popular choices. And I wound up basically without a publisher—gone from one, and considered “shelved” at the other, because I hadn’t released a new book with them in a while. My heart was broken, and I felt like a failure.
I ranted and raved. I blamed and cursed. And whined and pouted.
And then, one day, I got back up.
Because I had an idea.
So I wrote. I targeted certain markets, did my research and I started again.
I created this silly story series about boys who get fairy godmothers.
It wasn’t supposed to be anything. They were fun. They were silly.
It was a way for me to not cry, and to move forward. To shut the door on the past, and move on.
And I got my publisher back. Not only did they give me a new editor who loved my guys and godmothers series, but they took my old books from the other publisher too.
So now I had everything with them.
I was on top of the heap!
And then, like magic, some self-publishing things came along. Opportunities that gave me an amazing shot at something I may have never been able to do alone in today’s market.
I got my letters.
As in, I landed on the NY Times and USA Today bestseller rankings lists.
I was the queen of the mountain. (A very small mountain, but it was mine. I had a crown and everything).
And then my publisher closed.
I fell back down in the mud again.
This time it was harder, because I knew—thanks to my short dip into self publishing—what it was going to take to bring all those books back out on my own.
Should I? I didn’t know.
Did I want to? It was going to be hard.
I could have quit.
I could have thrown my hands in the air and said “forget it. I’m done. Seriously. This is too much.”
And believe me, I thought about it.
I thought about it a lot.
But then there was this other book series, one that I’d worked on for years. The first book in one iteration, had been published. For a minute. Then the publisher closed before the sequel came out.
That series deserved a place in the world.
I needed to make sure it saw the light of day.
Because it was good.
So I got up again.
And I learned how to do everything.
Everything I needed to do to self-publish my backlist. Everything I needed to publish this fairy tale series anew.
Everything I needed to do to move forward.
So I did.
There were many other stumbling blocks. Some were huge. Some were tiny. Some had me throwing things and others had me crying into my wine glass.
Almost every time I was riding high, I was knocked back down to reality.
Yet I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
I did everything correctly.
But I still lost.
I still fell.
But I also got back up again.
Because there were more stories to write. Those voices started talking to me. I would see the scenes play out in my head. And no matter how bad it could be, the stories kept me coming back.
My son has grown up seeing his mommy writing, pounding away at the keyboard. Or editing books. Or working on graphics for my books, or updating my website and newsletter or any of the other million things that I, a working author must do, every month, just to stay alive in the market.
He doesn’t know what it means to not see me write books.
Because I’m his mommy, and I’ve always been a published author.
And I hope the thing he sees most, is that even if I lose, I don’t wallow in the dirt.
I get back up again.
And I hope you do too.
I hope when you fall, you get back up again, too.
Check out my Facebook Page for the full video that my husband kindly filmed for me.