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3.04.2009

There's Something I Haven't Told You



Eek! Isn't my new pin the COOLEST? I can hear the deep voice now, announcing the start of the show: Spaaaaace Tweeeerp!

It would make a good cartoon, wouldn't it? I'd watch it.

The pin is part of an EXCELLENT package I received in the mail yesterday from Laini Taylor. (I know! Another package! I am so freaking lucky to have such amazing friends.) Laini, amongst being:

(A) An awe-inspiring writer
(B) A hilarious emailer
(C) A genius advice-giver

is also

(D) An intuitive gifter

Anyone who reads her blog knows the care she puts into her Christmas presents, but seriously, all of her gifts are awesome. Check out the rest of yesterday's package:




Pretty stationary, delicious candy, a Portland travel guide (is that a hint?), an adorable "watch," and . . . what's that in the middle? Oh yeah. Homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies. But wait! There's more! See that jar in the back? Wanna know what's inside?

Lavender caramel sauce.

Let me repeat that.

LAVENDER CARAMEL SAUCE. Which was heated and poured over vanilla ice cream for last night's dessert. Yuuuumm. Also, there may have a bit more candy and a few more cookies before this picture was taken. Maybe.

And . . . (Yes! Even more!)

Laini's super duper rockingest stupendously fun husband, Jim Di Bartolo, added in some new tunes for my playlist AND a print of this:




Which I have hardcore coveted ever since he posted it on his blog. I LOVE it, and I can't WAIT to hang it in my writing room. Isn't Jim talented?? I'm not the only one who thinks so. Last night, I sent Thom an email of the drawing. This was his reply:


To: stephssecretemail@popculturewhore.com
From: thisisnotthom@radiohead.com
Subject: re: LOOK AT MY AWESOME NEW PICTURE!!!

not bad.

thom



Which, coming from Thom, is a huuuuuge compliment. Yay Jim!

But . . . okay. I'm avoiding something here. That thing I haven't told you about? (You know, the title of this post?) That's the reason I received this package in the first place. And it's something I've wanted to tell you guys for a while, but I didn't know how. It's Big News. Good News. But in light of this crap economy, it makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty and squirmy inside.

So I haven't told you.

Until now.

Because, really, I can't put it off any longer.

Except if I space out a few more lines like this.

Or this.

Or even this.

Thom Yorke is my boyfriend!

I bought blue nail polish to match my hair!

Sharp cheddar cheese is better than mild cheddar cheese!

(Oh get it over with, Stephanie.)

I quit my job.

The package was a congratulations gift for my new status as Official Full-Time Writer. As of two weeks ago, I am no longer a librarian. Which is simultaneously one of the most joyous and terrifying things that has ever happened to me.

Let me back up a bit.

My husband and I have had an agreement for the last few years. A Very Simple Agreement. When I got an agent, I could quit my job. Please allow me to make it clear that we both fully realize that agent does not = published book and a fatty paycheck. We are fortunate to be okay financially. We are not rich (so don't ask me to borrow a twenty, because I will laugh), but thanks to my husband's job, we do just fine thank-you-very-much. We're lucky not to have debt (apart from that pesky mortgage thing), and we're notoriously thrifty.

So anyway. Why when I got an agent? Because, to me at least, it's the first major step towards publication. And I know it might not happen with this novel, and maybe not even the next, but I DO feel good about it. Really good. And I have a GREAT agent. And having this first industry professional on my side is like my first gold star. It means: Hey. This is good stuff. With hard work, you might have a career here.

Notice that phrase? Hard work? Because that's what I'm doing. What I HAVE been doing. Working my butt off, day after day, night after night. I've been working two full-time jobs, and now that I have a reason to hope, and since I am financially secure, I have quit one of them to pursue the other to the best of my abilities.

Which, like I said, is terrifying. And thrilling and wonderful and vomit-inducing and cartwheel-producing.

And I have felt enormously guilty and hesitant to tell you because I know so many of you are struggling right now. And despite my hard work to get here, it feels really unfair. I have close friends and family who have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts or are in jeopardy of losing careers they've held for twenty years. And here I am, basically throwing away a paycheck.

Please believe me when I tell you that this wasn't an easy decision. The plan had been for me to quit the day I signed with an agent, but as it turns out, it didn't go down like that. We agonized over this. We watched our finances and balanced budgets and threw out dire scenarios and all sorts of scary stuff.

And we decided that the time was still right.

What it comes down to is this: If I didn't take this risk, I would always wonder. And that "what if" would slowly eat away at my soul for the rest of my life.

Now, I am not a risk taker by nature. I order the same thing every time I go to my favorite restaurants. It took me a dozen years to grow the courage to dye my hair. I love travel shows, but I let my passport expire because I am terrified of embarrassing myself in another country.

But THIS "what if." This one is different.

This one is my dream.

And I am so sorry for everyone struggling out there right now. And I wish with all my heart that the economy turns quickly. But I also hope that you can see this was the right decision for me, at this time in my life. No matter what happens -- good or bad -- it was the right decision.

That's what I keep telling myself, at least.

Now, if you pardon me, I'm going to go stress vomit.

18 comments:

  1. Oh, Steph, we all love you. And I LOVE that you are a full-time writer, because the world needs, yes, needs your books.

    And also, where do we sign up to be Laini's best friend? Because honestly.

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  2. You are living the dream, girl! No one should grudge you that. Now go eat some of those cookies!

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  3. Good for you! I think you're making the right decision. And even though I understand what you mean about it being a difficult one, sometimes you've just gotta go for it!

    Congrats, and enjoy the ride!

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  4. Yay, you! Dreams are meant for chasing.

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  5. Funnily enough, I just some awesome cookies in the mail from YOU! Thank YOU! They are delicious :-)

    And huge congrats on The Quit. It is a marvelous thing. I can understand the attendant anxiety, but having read your book, I don't think you have anything to worry about. It is just RIGHT that you have all the time you need to create more and more wonderful books. Fingers crossed for a fabulous springtime full of more good news.

    xoxo

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  6. Yay Steph for making choices you like! I wish you many good luck charms!

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  7. New goal: be Laini's friend. Wow. That's one awesome care package!

    As for your job, I actually think you are doing a noble thing. I mean, it was kind of selfish for you to have TWO jobs when others are struggling. You gave up one that someone else can do and get a much needed paycheck for. And you kept the one that only you can do:)

    So no stress vomiting. I've heard your book is so awesome it hurts. And from the only source I really trust with that claim—Kiersten.

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  8. Oh that Thom! I think I'm going to cry! His heartfelt comments and obvious warmth and admiration for me, my art, and all that I stand for are so clearly and gushingly evident. Just. Wow. Thank you thank you for sharing his over-the-top praise!

    ;)

    P.S. - congrats on The Quit heard 'round the world! Huzzah!

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  9. Thank you, everyone. Your support means so much to me. I was (obviously) quite nervous to post this news!

    JIMBO -- Thom just sent me another email. He's kind of angry that I posted this last one here. He said:

    "if you saw my face, you'd see i was sincere. its good, all right?"

    Sorry he's such a grouchy bugger. But he is a fan :)

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  10. i thought you quit the library to spend more time with me

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  11. I know how you feel, Stephanie. My husband and I sat down a year ago and we agreed that our finances dictated I could give myself two years to find an agent; I got one within a year. It doesn't mean publication, especially in this financial maelstrom, but I love your analogy of the gold star: it is recognition and validation you are on the right track. We are lucky to have supportive families behind us and I wish you continued luck in your writing career. I am enjoying following other writers in the same boat as me, it shows we aren't alone!

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  12. Donna -- Thank you for commenting! Yes, we are fortunate to have such wonderful families. The best of luck to you, too!

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  13. Wow, that's so thrilling! I definitely think you made the right move and we're all rooting for you!
    And lavendar caramel sauce sounds crazy good. Really, the thought of it is going to distract me the rest of the day. ;)

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  14. Congratulations, Stephanie! That's so exciting!

    I'm proud of you - maybe one day I will follow in your footsteps.

    :-)

    Lisa

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  15. No need to feel guilty - you are doing what is the best/good for you - but this post just shows what a sweet and caring person you are. I know you are on your way and I am thrilled for you! :)

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  16. LAVENDER!! Yay!!!
    I had a huge cup of white chocolate-lavender hot chocolate at 'Sucre' in New Orleans, and it was CRAZY good!!!!

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  17. Awesome! I am so happy for you! :-D

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  18. Anonymous5:53 PM GMT-5

    Hi Steph,

    Got a major thrilly-shivery good feeling reading about you quitting your job - I know how you feel about not taking enough risks, and you are in the place I want to be with my writing one day - the place where I can quit my day job and seriously dedicate my time to writing. I am so excited for you! Lots of YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYs! and Good LUCK!

    :D

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