I remember when I started this blog and it only had eight followers--all of which were family members I'd guilted into clicking the "follow" button.
I remember how it stayed that way for MONTHS.
I remember how it felt when my first non-family follower appeared. And then another. And another.
I remember how often I'd check back, worrying the followers might have disappeared.
I remember how lonely it was before I made other writer friends. How hard it was to stay motivated. How much I wondered if I was fooling myself, chasing an impossible dream.
I remember squealing the first time an author @replied to me on Twitter. Squealing even louder when the first author "followed" me. And literally jumping up and down the first time an author responded to one of my emails.
I remember the first time someone who wasn't a friend or family member read some of my pages and told me I was "the real deal." How much those words meant to me. How much I'd needed to hear them.
I remember how hard it was to find Critique Partners. How scary it was to suggest swapping pages with someone. How long it took me to work up the courage to open their notes. How hard it was to let their constructive criticism make me a better writer. How devastating and discouraging it was, the few times the CP attempt just didn't quite *work out*
I remember how many drafts I threw away before I finally figured out the plot and typed, "the end." And how typing those words was just the beginning of the work.
I remember the way my legs shook as I walked into my first writer's conference all alone and picked up my badge. How I couldn't find anyone to sit with at the mixer, and called my husband near tears, wondering if I should go home early.
I remember how sick I felt when I got the list of agents I'd be pitching to. How I texted/dm-ed my friends in a panic, wondering if I'd be able to do it. How I couldn't eat for the entire conference because of the nerves.
I remember how shocked and overwhelmed I was when the agents requested pages. How I worried I'd misunderstood them. How scared I was to let myself hope it was a good sign.
I remember being so afraid to query that my friends had to bully me on Twitter to #hitsend.
I remember crying myself to sleep a few hours later, after getting my first rejection. Then crying again 2 weeks later, when Laura offered to represent me. Happy tears that time, though. :)
I remember the punched in the gut feeling of reading my first Laura-Revision-Letter. Worrying I wouldn't be good enough to pull it off. Having to force myself to dive in and get started. Having to tear my draft apart in order to make it better. And then having to tear it apart again.
I remember getting an email from a friend asking me if I wanted to try organizing a free online writer's conference, and wondering how the heck something like that would be possible. How I decided to give it a try anyway. How I worried the whole thing would be an epic failure.
I remember dancing around my house the first time an author sent me their ARC. How I obsessed over every word of that review, wanting to do the book justice. How that ARC still has a special spot on my bookshelf. Next to the signed copy I bought for myself.
I remember the first time someone recognized me from my blog at a book event. How strange it felt to have someone know who I was--and to care enough to come over and say hi. How I struggled to find something to say.
I remember all of these things--and so many more--in vivid, precise detail. Every step of my journey. Every high. Every low. Every unexpected curve. All the joy, heartache, and fear that went along with it.
And I'm telling you all of this because sometimes I feel like people see where I'm at now, and don't realize all the scary, stressful, sometimes painful steps I took to reach this point. Or worse, they think I've forgotten.
I haven't forgotten.
I remember every moment of my journey--and honestly? I'm still very much that same girl. I still get excited when a new follower pops up in my sidebar. I still squeal when an author I love @replies me. I still get nervous at conferences, I still get stressed by revision letters, and I still get STUNNED when someone recognizes me from my blog or Twitter or FB and comes up to meet me. And I hope that never changes, regardless of where this path continues to take me.
I am grateful for each and every thing I've accomplished.
But it doesn't change who I am. And I hope it doesn't change the way any of you see me. Because it shouldn't.
I may be a few steps ahead of you. Or maybe I'm a few steps behind. But we're all on the journey together. We're all heading to the same place. And none of us should ever forget that.
So what about you guys? What do you remember about your journey?