Almost every time I do an interview, the first question is "how long have you wanted to be a writer" or "when did you decide you wanted to write"? The answer is always the same. I was born with the talent to write. I chose to learn more about the craft of writing. I practiced that craft. I hone my skills daily.
But that's not really what the interviewers want to know. They want to know how long I've been working at the submission game and that's something very different. Most of the writers that I've met and become friends with over the last two years have been submitting work for a long time. Many of them have a stack of rejection letters to prove just how difficult it is to get published.
I don't. The very first book I submitted was accepted and a contract offered within two months. There are some people who give me a wide-eyed stare and think that means I must be a fabulous writer. I wish that was true, but it just isn't so. The truth is that I submitted that book at the right time. It was a little offbeat. A little strange. And that was what that publisher was willing to take a chance on right them.
Five years ago it would have been too sexy. Five years from now it might be too vanilla. But right then, at that moment, it was acceptable. That's timing.
On another blog, I read a long discussion about whether we should try to write what was in our heart or what would sell. Hmmm. I hope the two statements are one and the same. Again, timing enters in that equation. Quite a few years ago, Regency romances were all the rage. Georgette Heyer wrote a bunch of them--around seventy books, I think. Now young readers give you a blank stare because Ms. Heyer didn't write vampires, werewolves, demons, or any of the other things that are popular fiction now. All things are cyclic. Again, it's a matter of timing.
What will I write when the current fashion fades away? Who knows? My head seems to always be full of strange and wondrous stories. As long as they're just a little to the edge of center, they'll probably be different enough to survive in the raging river we know as publishing. Hopefully, I'll keep on having a good sense of timing.