So, when does it become real?
I think my whole life I've asked myself that very question. When does it become real?
A few years ago I went back to school and got my masters degree and I got it in something that I found I really loved.
I had dabbled in writing stories before I went back to school, but the degree pushed me, made me think I could actually put several thousand words together and get them published. Along the way I met amazing people who helped me, encouraged me, believed in me.
A couple of years later, I can call myself a published author.
Is it real now?
When I started to write in the hopes of selling my stories, I always wondered what it would be like to be published. I went to conventions and heard authors who had done exactly that. What would it feel like to hold a book you wrote in your hand for the first time? What goes through your mind when you get the call or the e-mail delivering that news that the project's a go? Can it be as good as you imagine when you walk into a bookstore and see a book with your name on it?
Some of these things I know--some...not yet.
I always thought I'd feel like I made it when my first story sold, or when I got my first residual check. Those things happened and yet, I wasn't quite there. I was SO excited when I found out my story was chosen for the anthology--same went for the second story. Still, I didn't feel it was real.
Funny how we think sometimes, isn't it? We always want more, want bigger, want better. Today I received an advanced copy of my short story collection, Speckled. The fact that it's a physical book is amazing to me. It's fantastic. It's so cool! But I can also look at the book and see its deficiencies--that it's self-published, it's not a novel (with profit generating sequels--multiple sequels to follow...), and it most likely will never be in a bookstore.
So, to answer the question, "is it real now?" a person could go either way. No, it's not real because _______ (fill in the blank). Yes, it's real because...well, because it's real. It's a real book and after I edit the proof copy and get everything set up, I'll be able to sell it and people will read it and hopefully enjoy it.
Of course, writing novels and getting book deals and having books in bookstores--there's no guarantee that'll happen, but there's no guarantee it won't either. Chances are, if I do accomplish all those things, I could still be asking myself if it then becomes real. I hope that for me it's real the whole time.