1 Day: 1 High Professional High, 1 Low Professional Low
In over two decades of mentoring other writers, I’ve experienced a lot. In over two decades of being a professional writer, I’ve experienced a lot. But until yesterday, I had never experienced an extremely high professional high and a low professional low on the same day.
In a way, I wish this morning I could still say I hadn’t. It rocked my world and I’m still rattling inside and hoping that by sharing, I’ll write my way through it.
It started in 1992 when I wrote a book about a psychic empath—a paranormal romantic suspense with a strong mystery element. I had not yet sold a novel and this proposal was rejected at the query stage by an editor at a house I specifically targeted as my “goal publisher.” I believed in the book and wrote it anyway. It’s called Mind Reader. I sent the complete to my then agent who said that it was an odd duck—remember, paranormal didn’t exist then as a genre—but she agreed to send it to my targeted goal publisher with a caveat. If it didn’t sell there, she couldn’t do anything else with it. It was too far outside the box. She sent it to the query-rejecting publisher who bought it in two weeks, it was published and did well.
Fast forward to 2012. Twenty years after the initial publication. The rights on said novel reverted to me, and I republished the book. Then I added it to a boxed set collection with a group of fellow writers (CJ Lyons, Debra Webb, VR Marks, Peggy Webb, Kathy Carmichael and Regan Black.) We titled the collection Dangerous Desires. The stories all contain mystery, suspense and romance though the emphasis is on different elements in the stories.
Yesterday, that collection hit the USA Today list. Now I’ve made that list before, but it was in a collection of short stories edited by Sandra Brown. Making it with a novel I’d done under my name—that was a first for me. And when I learned of it yesterday, I experienced a rare privilege for a writer—a very high professional high.
Some will think the reason is it represents huge sales and money. That doesn’t do it for me. It never did. Remember, I’m a purpose writer. Higher sales to me means my books are in more readers’ hands, and that means more opportunities for healing-themed messages to reach more people. That’s my very high high.
Then later yesterday afternoon, while I was still floating (Twenty years is a long time to wait for a high professional high, you know?) I received a phone call from a dear friend who had bad news to tell me. Matthew Shear had died.
You may or may not have heard of Matthew. He was way up the chain of honchos at St. Martin’s—a co-publisher, so to speak. The news of his passing hit me like a ton of bricks. You see, I first met Matthew in 1995, just after I’d signed my very first contract with St. Martin’s (on a project that was different and my agent refused to send out but 4 of the 5 publishers I sent it to were interested in it). He was new to St. Martin’s back then. Open, warm and funny, kind.
We spoke often over the next several years. I did eight projects with my editor Jen Enderlin, and she and Matthew were moving up the ranks at St. Martin’s then. We didn’t often talk business. I was happy. They were happy. We did our respective things and we were happy. But we did talk. All through that time and after we parted professional paths.
We laughed and joked and shared tidbits of our lives. What I know is that Matthew didn’t just go through the motions. He lived. He loved his job, the people he worked with, his family and friends. He lived well. And as he elevated in his position, he continued to live well and to treat everyone with the same dignity and grace and kindness he treated me with on that very first meeting.
I admired him. I respected him. And, oh, I know so many who will sorely miss him. In his work, he changed lives. But as a human being, I believe he changed even more of them. And that will be missed most of all and remembered most fondly.
My condolences to his family and close friends. To all at St. Martin’s, especially Sally and Jen. I know your hearts ache, and I mourn with you.
So why am I telling Writing-Live! readers all this? Because too often we spend so much time seeking, we don’t allow ourselves the luxury of fully enjoying and experiencing our moments. We’re all going to have highs and lows in our professions and in our lives. Both deserve their moments.
Yesterday, I floated. I had the rare privilege of experiencing that high professional high.
Yesterday, I wept. I had the rare privilege of experiencing that low professional low.
Both moments, I felt fully.
And in my mind, I saw Matthew, head tossed back, giving me a huge smile and an attagirl.
Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: :Legend of the Mist (time-travel romantic suspense,)Torn Loyalties (inspirational romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s online community: Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.www.vickihinze.com.