The first anniversary of the release of Mercy of the Moon draws near, and as always, a song runs through my head. “Thank you for Letting Me Be Myself Again,” by Sly and the Family Stone says it all, as I reflect gratefully on my first year as a published author, and the many people who helped me achieve this lifelong goal.
I’ve been a member of RWA since 2011 and a member of Sunshine State Romance Authors from the first meeting. I would not have my own ISBN (still thrilling!) without the support of each and every member of our thriving group, and the generosity of our published authors with their vast knowledge of the craft and the publishing world. Like many other writers, I’m a bit of an introvert, but I have clung to the kinship in this group like a life preserver. The meeting of these kindred spirits is like oxygen to me.
We writers (no matter the genre) are odd ducks, with unusual needs and strange permutations of the mind. A few months ago, I woke my husband out of a deep sleep and asked him if he knew the best way to dispose of a body. I probably shouldn’t do that again–he’s still a bit scared of me. You see, he sleeps the deep sleep of the untroubled and innocent soul, blissfully unaware of the twisted things going through my mind: the characters who won’t behave, the occasional irrational fear of reading my own manuscript, the seaweed tangling around my plot, pulling me under in a quagmire of confusion. Our mates may do their best to support us, but there are writing dilemmas only other dedicated writers can truly understand.
Like many of my fellow writers, my writing process involves many drafts. It’s how I think my story out.
One day I bounced out of my office, red-faced with excitement. “I’m done, I’m done!”
My husband smiles up at me from the couch. “That’s great! So you’re finished with the book.”
Uh. Here it comes, the part that always mystifies him: “Well, not exactly, no. But I’m closer.”
He cocks his head, eyebrows knitted. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m done with this draft. Now I know what’s going on. I’m seeing things more clearly now, and the next draft won’t be so hard.”
“So…you’re not done.”
I purse my lips and watch as deep bewilderment creases his innocent face.
He then realizes he’s at a crossroads. He wants to be supportive, to say the right thing. He most definitely does not want to say the wrong thing. So he smiles and nods, wall-eyed with confusion. I imagine he’s thinking, how will I know when she’s really done?
These milestone emotions might seem trivial to the lay person, and difficult to relate to. Only a fellow writer and SSRA member can truly celebrate such milestones as winning a wrestling match with a combative manuscript, or putting another draft to bed. A non-writer watching us clap for someone who received a rejection email might truly question our sanity. But that’s the beauty of having a group like ours. We get each other. And we can truly be ourselves.
This last year, I entered unchartered territory. Myriad emotions hit me like a tidal wave and knocked me off my feet, joy and frustration, victory and defeat. I’ve experienced the freedom of letting go of perfection, the triumph of reaching the unattainable. I’ve been splashed with the cold water at realization of the responsibilities that come with being a published author. I am thankful my fellow mermaids and mermen are here to share their unique experience, and perhaps in turn, I can buoy a fellow shipmate up. We have each other’s backs.
Since I’ve joined SSRA, I’ve been challenged with some tasks involving the running of our organization. I’ve served as newsletter editor, then as membership liaison/secretary, and during that time, my career as a published author began. I’ve learned a lot. I can promise you I’d never taken minutes before in my life. But I muddle along, as we all do when we learn something new.
My most profound learning experience is witnessing the dedication and generosity of our charter and current leadership. They have sacrificed their personal writing time and personal time to meet the needs of our members. I’ve watched how several members who’ve stepped in to make our chapter better now have publishing contracts or are getting serious requests for their work. Maybe it’s a bit of Mermaid Magic, or Karma. The only way to find out, as election time draws near, is to rise to the challenge of supporting SSRA as a more active member.
Here’s to the future of our wonderful group, to the continued support, respect, warmth, and generosity of time and energy truly unique to SSRA. As I celebrate a year of being an ISBN-toting author, I raise a glass of grog to each and every member of SSRA. Cheers!
She spent her childhood running wild on an Idaho mountainside. Although she’s lived across the U.S., she is still an Idahoan at heart and a notorious potato pusher. She has a degree in Human Services and worked as a roofer, a hoofer, a computer data entry operator and a stay-at-home mom.
Music has ruled Jennifer’s world since birth. She shimmied out of the womb with a bad case of Boogie Fever, but soon fell in love with the lyrics, how the words fit together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle. Jennifer has dreamt of writing romances since reading Wuthering Heights at the tender age of twelve, and now lives that dream, using music on a daily basis to uplift and inspire her writing. It’s no coincidence that Ian, the hero in Mercy of the Moon, uses music to win heroine Maggie’s heart.
She lives in rural Florida with her husband and Great Dane puppy, and enjoys frequent visits from her three grandchildren and three grown children. She feverishly lobbies for the return of breeches and would really love to see her husband of thirty-five years in a pair. Jennifer can be found online at: JenniferTaylorWrites.com