By the time I post this, "Timeless Night" will have been out for 32 days. 20 odd years ago, I'd submitted a book draft to Silhouette Shadows, entitled "The Darkest Shadow", a book I just knew in my arrogant 20 something glory would astound the romance world. Look out, Johanna Lindsay! Back up, Jude Devereaux! Get to getting, Danielle Steel!
It didn't quite happen that way but even then I had a kick ass imagination. Shame I didn't have the depth to match it. I was young, untried, eager and assumed because I was the wordiest beesh among my friends that I could turn my love of language into continual bestsellers that would ignite the literary factions on fire!
I was an idiot.
I'm sure a lot of peeps would think I'm STILL an idiot. I probably tend to agree with them once in a while.
You all know how my first attempt at publication ended: REJECTION! In properly "Teri-esque" fashion, I gathered up my manuscript, my notes, my research, all my binders and I placed it all in a box. That I duct taped. Then chained, then roped up. I placed it all in a garbage bag and tied it up, then dumped it all into a bigger box. I scrawled "DO NOT EVER OPEN, FAILURE WILL ESCAPE" over it everywhere, with the help of my trusty big black marker.
I had my then hubs put it up, in the very back shelf of our closet, where I couldn't reach by natural means since I'm a happy member of the midget mafia.
Then I went out, got completely drunk on Kahlua, vodka and tequila. I wore black as though I were in mourning. I refused to let anyone around me mention the name "Torie James". I even held a funeral for "her." After my lovely sense of outraged dramatics, I decided to throw myself into the routine drudgery of this thing called life...
The best thing to ever happen to me was that rejection.
It forced me to put aside my dreams and go out and live life on life's terms. I did. Most of the ensuing 20 years sucked harder than a hooker on rent day. Adultery from my husband, copious and carnal knowledge of most opiates known to man, loss of identity, financial issues, life issues, divorce, a brief detour into another relationship where he drank like a fish everyday and I was drooling and barely lucid thanks to codeine, oxycontin, vicodin, demerol. Emotional and psychological abuse, bankruptcy, homelessness for a brief time. Lost a good job, lost friends, withdrew into myself. Abused drugs a bit longer, became very sick for a long time, got a dream job, got sick again. In and out of rehab. Stole money from my family to support Le Habit. Finally woke up one day and took a good long look in the mirror for a whopping 30 seconds (didn't like seeing my reflection much, i was so so ashamed....) and said...No more. No more.
I was operating under the mentality that some outside source would swoop in to save me, to rescue the fair damsel and give her the kiss of life.
What I GOT was a kick in the ass. And when it came, I decided to save myself. To be my own hero. To do all the things I thought I couldn't do.
Now, you might be thinking that I'm nucking futs for saying that rejection was the best thing to happen to me since all this took place AFTER the fateful day I got it in the mail...
Life changed because I WANTED it too. I didn't want to die a morally reprehensible addict who'd taken this great gift of life and thrown it away. I wanted more. I wanted to find peace again, my own happy snatch of serenity.I had to call on serious reserves of strength and will. I had to accept responsibility and be accountable for all the shit I plain ol' fucked up. It was hard, too. Winning back the trust of people who'd been so hurt by me and my actions as I danced to the winding notes of "It's my Pity Party and I'll Cry if I Want to" for a good 10 years. But I did it. By all the Old Ways, I did it.
And here I am. I'm not perfect. I'm heavily flawed, I'm crass, vulgar, rude. Some have called me whiny and bratty. I've been lied to, used, played, attacked by those I thought my friends. I've kept quiet when I should have spoken up and spoken up when I should have just kept my mouth shut. I make mistakes every day and sometimes, when pushed, can snap and be a bit of a bitch but I try REALLY hard to NOT be that way.
Is my life perfect? Hell to the no. I'm so poor I can't pay attention! I've lost all the material things I once took such pride in. I've been hit time after time after time with crap medical issues that make me curl up in a ball and sob like a baby. I'm 43 years old and living at home with my mom and dad. I had it all and I threw it all away. But don't you see? That's the most amazing thing about LIFE. It. Goes. On.
And...every moment is a chance to change yourself. Don't worry about changing anything BUT yourself. When you do that, when you come to understand yourself on all levels, your life will change. And when you change, the world DOES change around you.
I have found MY magic again. I thought I'd lost it in growing up and in "rejection". I thought life had taken the best I had and there was nothing else to strive for.
I was wrong. Once upon a time, a rather ragged, chubby, freckled, coarse middle aged woman walked into the magical forest of her imagination. She stumbled, she tripped and ended up crawling the rest of the way to the big ass rock in front of her. She dragged herself up, wrapped her hands around the hilt of the sword stuck in it and pulled so hard, she ended up tumbling ass over elbows. It hurt. A lot. But she found her purpose when she realized she was still grasping the sword.
The stone is life. The sword is MY soul.
And I will go on and on until there are no more worlds to conquer.
Do I think it's arrogant to call myself the Once and Future Queen?
No. I fought battles to get here. I tamed my dragons.
Now I ride them.