As you know John, Alula and I left the UK in January 2010. We were looking for a new home – somewhere hot, less stressful, somewhere with a creative, entrepreneurial vibe, somewhere with good schools and good people. And we found Bali and it’s our version of perfect living (back then I hadn’t even anticipated the full time cleaner / cook thing). For the moment anyway.
Anyway in the summer of 2009 just after we’d decided to head off on our round the globe mission and were trying to figure out how to pay for it all, I was in melt down. What would I do? How would I make money? I mean, I had no discernable skills in life whatsoever other than being a pro at buying shoes on ebay and having a withering look that could shrivel people in a matter of seconds.
Swimming one day I had a conversation with myself that went like this:
Who’s rich? Let’s see. The queen. Hate her. Err, Stephanie Meyer she’s rich. She’s like a millionaire and all for writing about vampires. Ok, I can so do that. Now think about it think about it. What could I write about? Nothing about vampires. Cliché. Yeah, so what if there was a girl and her name was – um – Lila and then there was a boy. Let’s call him Alex, after Alex Skarsgard – yes Alex is a good name and he’ll be the opposite of Edward Cullen – so not a vampire, not moody or angsty and he won’t have quiffy hair and / or be a mindreader. And then I started saying what if… and then about 5 lengths later I had the outline for my story.
I got home, started plotting, started writing. Four months later I had my first book written.
Then we headed off to India and the day before we went I sent the manuscript to agents.
By the time we left India I had an agent.
By the time we left Bali I had a two book deal with a publisher – the brilliant and globally massive Simon & Schuster.
I went from being a Head of Projects in a not for profit in London where the only thing I ever wrote was creative fiction of the fundraising kind to being a like PAID author.
Heehehehehehehe (sorry still have to giggle at all this occasionally).
When we got to the States (by which point I’d written the sequel to Hunting Lila – as it’s now been titled) I decided to start a new book – a whole new series with new characters altogether. I finished it about three weeks ago.
And then yesterday I got an offer for that book too (hence the shopping for a breakfast bowl). This means – and I’m still having to process – that I’ll have three books out within about 9 months of each other next year. Two young adult book series, both with an amazing publishing house, alongside some of the best young adult writers out there – other writers I love like Scott Westerfield and Neal Shusterman.
I read the offer email to John. And John looks at me shaking his head and he says, ‘the universe really does give you whatever you want.’ Or something along those lines. And I am thinking to myself well it’s not giving me Gisele’s body, Scarjo’s face and Oprah’s wallet, but hey I’m not complaining.
But he has a point. I do think I’m the luckiest person alive right now. And I had said to John on Monday ‘I’m going to get an offer for my book on Thursday or Friday’ and whaddya know? I did. Ok, ok, Susan Miller kind of indicated it too and she is the oracle.
And I’ve been reflecting on this. Because what I think it is that I’ve always made it clear what I want. I say it out loud at every opportunity – to John, to my friends, to complete strangers. I don’t just say ‘what if’ anymore. I say, WHEN.
That’s all very well you might say, I’m going to start telling every and any person I come across that I’m going to be the next Nobel Prize winning physicist but that sure as hell isn’t going to happen. (It sure as hell isn’t going to happen to me because it took me five goes just to spell it).
No but if you believe it, if you genuinely believe that it will happen, not just think ‘that would be nice’, then I think it does.
You just need to stop saying what if and start saying When.
Or maybe it’s just me and I really am the luckiest person in the world.