Then let's say I decided I wanted to be an author in 9th grade.
Next we'll grant that my high school class prophecy stated that I would someday be an author.
What took me so long????
Decades after the fact, that prophecy was haunting me. It wasn't that I had given up the dream. More that I was fiddling around with it in a pretty non-committal way while also trying to run a decent high school English classroom and be a wife and mother. But there was something about the (very unpleasant prospect) of nearing forty that made me take the whole process a million times more seriously. What would be the universal cataclysmic result if I reached the age of, say 50, and had still failed to fulfill my class prophecy?
Obviously, the world as we know it would end.
Okay, I didn't take my new commitment quite that seriously, but I took it seriously enough to join SCBWI. There I met a wonderful local critique group who spurred me on to write The Everafter. This story was, quite surprisingly to me, about one teenage girl's journey to Eternity (named in the book, The Everafter).
Five months and two or three drafts of the novel later, I started shopping it to agents. What a discouraging process that was. I wasn't getting much interest in it from my queries. I sure learned how hard it was to stand out among the hundreds of queries agents were getting every month.
One of my critique group members, though, has an agent who agreed to look at my novel (then named Life Hopping) for me. She told me that while she couldn't offer to represent me, she thought my work was publishable and just needed to get into the hands of the right agent. She referred me to Adams Literary. A few months later, Adams offered to represent me, and Josh Adams navigated the remainder of the journey into the hands of an editor (Donna Bray) who made an offer on the book. And then put me through the wringer on revisions, I might add (for which I will be "eternally thankful," as the saying goes)
Total time from story conception to publication? Three years, much rejection, and lots of reminders of how hard it was for Margaret Mitchell to sell Gone with the Wind.
Total time from first dream of being an author to success? Umm....more decades than I want to admit to. It often has felt like an eternal trip.
But the arrival is worth the journey.