by Anna Campbell
After Jo's beautiful post yesterday, I wasn't sure what I could follow it up with today. Anything after that would just seem banal.
Anyway, I thought I'd share with you something I've been thinking about a bit lately.
As a lot of you know, life chez Anna Campbell has been pretty exciting lately. It's awards season and to my delight and surprise, both UNTOUCHED and CLAIMING THE COURTESAN have appeared on several lists of the year's best. A great thrill, because it's based on reader votes, was being chosen as Best New Author of 2007 in the All About Romance Annual Reader Poll. Another great thrill because it's such a prestigious award was seeing CLAIMING THE COURTESAN nominated (along with my talented fellow Bandita Donna MacMeans's THE EDUCATION OF MRS. BRIMLEY) for Best First Historical Romance in the Romantic Times 2007 Reviewers Choice Awards. Michelle Buonfiglio at Lifetime TV chose CLAIMING THE COURTESAN not only as Debut of 2007 but also Book of the Year! Wow!
But as most romance writers, aspiring or published, will tell you - the one you really, REALLY want to final in is Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. It was one of the dreams that kept me going through my years in the wilderness before I sold. The hope that one day I'd be able to say I was nominated for a RITA! You need such dreams when you're struggling against self-doubt and rejection and a world which keeps telling you to be sensible and give up trying to get what you want because it's impossible to achieve.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, this impossible dream came true. I received a phone call in the middle of the afternoon from megastar Lorraine Heath to let me know that BOTH my books had finaled in the Best Regency Historical Romance category. It took quite a while for the news to sink in! One of the loveliest things about that moment is Lorraine was among the first people to read CTC and she gave me a great quote which appeared on the cover. So there was a fantastic feeling of artistic balance about the whole occasion!
As you can imagine, I've been excited and happy and pleased and grateful and... You know the drill! I've had several riotous celebrations, including one with my local writer friends that I talk about here. And for a week or so there, the house was fragrant with the bunches of flowers wonderful wellwishers sent me.
But in between all this hoopla, my REAL life continues. And my real life is writing my fourth historical romance for Avon.
With all of this positive reinforcement, you'd think writing the next book would be a doddle, wouldn't you?
Well, the answer is a resounding...
The awards and the praise have been absolutely amazing and I'll always be grateful for the lovely things that have happened to me over the last few weeks. But the stark truth is that filling blank pages with my stories, finding out what I want to say and saying it as well as I possibly can, bringing characters who are alive in my head alive on paper, that never gets easier.
Which I've decided is a GOOD thing!
Well, I think it's a good thing...
There's something scary but unerringly honest about trying to tell the best story you can. I think the process makes you honest. It's just you and the writing, nothing else. It's ruthless, occasionally rewarding, often terrifying. But it keeps me grounded the way very few other things do. And each book turns out to be as big a challenge - or sometimes a bigger challenge - than the book before. Because each book presents its own world and its own problems and requires its own solutions that you only reach through painful effort and more ups and downs than your common or garden rollercoaster.
And at the end of all that anguish and hard graft, you hopefully get a book that you're proud to see on a shelf somewhere. And hopefully that other people will like and tell you that they like! So long live awards season!
What keeps you grounded through good and bad times? What makes it all worthwhile for you? Can we help you celebrate anything? You know we love a party in the lair!