Monday, January 04, 2010

Secret Garden

(Blog title courtesy of The Boss--Bruce Springsteen!)



(Summerland--as imagined by Skyrose--isn't it lovely?!!)

So, the ringing in of a new decade got me thinking a lot about how I spent the last one, and I have to say, that if nothing else, it's been one of great change. Containing some of the hardest, most difficult hurdles I've ever faced, and yet those very same hurdles ended up providing not only great opportunity for learning and growth, but the chance to build something positive from them.

On the Millennium New Year's Eve, I was in Stockholm Sweden on a four day layover (I was working as a NYC based flight attendant back then), and a trip like that was pretty much the same as getting paid to vacation in a gorgeous (and cold!!) city. And, as I was still dating my soon-to-be husband, I took him along and we had an amazing time!

Fast forward to 2001, we got married in May, and by September, when 9/11 hit, I was suddenly faced with a 40% pay cut and the additional duty of performing early morning bomb checks. And as horrible and tragic as that day was, as much as that moment of watching those planes fly into the towers will forever be sealed in my mind, it also served as the impetus to finally stop talking about my dream of being a writer, and actually start, well, writing!

So, I dusted off the story I'd started nearly a decade before, finished it, sent it off to a slew of publishers (erroneously thinking I didn't need an agent--wrong!), only to get a slew of rejections for my efforts. And yet, as much as it hurt to be rejected by everyone, in the end it just made me try harder. I took classes, revised my manuscript over and over again, and by 2003 I had an agent, and by Feb 4, 2004 I was offered a two-book deal with St. Martin's Press!

But before we'd even finished celebrating, we were hit with tragedy as every member of my husband's immediate family was diagnosed with cancer within months of each other--including my husband.

By 2005, when my debut novel, FAKING 19, was released we'd already lost his mother, and a very, dear, old friend of mine (my first love!), suddenly passed away too. By the time my second book was released, my husband lost his twin brother, and by the time my third book was released, I was on the verge of losing my husband as well.

But, he pulled through, and what was truly the absolute darkest phase of my life, ultimately shifted into something else. And I soon realized that If I hadn't experienced that--if I hadn't gone through a grief so deep I could barely get off the couch--I wouldn't have been able to write Saving Zoe, Cruel Summer, or any of the books in The Immortals series. Those stories were a direct result of where I'd been and who I'd become because of it. Writing them helped me to make better sense of the world.

2009 has brought some amazing opportunities my way, and to say that I'm grateful hardly seems sufficient. And even though I have no idea what 2010 will bring--I can't wait to get started! If nothing else, I think I've finally learned that no matter how dire something may seem on the surface, if you go deep (very, very deep!), there's a message, an opportunity for growth, and maybe even a chance to turn it into something better.

The other night I watched "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (original version) on TV, and at the very end, in Charlie's "all is lost" moment, when Wonka tells him that he failed the test and to go away, Charlie reaches into his pocket and hands over the gum he'd taken earlier. Only to have Wonka look at him, eyes shining as he says:

"So shines a good dead in a weary world."

And then hands him the keys to the kingdom.

I hope you all shine just as bright (if not brighter!) in 2010!!

Alyson
xoxo

24 comments:

alyssa said...

This is a beatiful blog post Alyson.

I am so sorry for all of your losses, but I can see you dealt with them very well by channeling that loss into creative energy, which is what I find myself doing most of the time as well.

Here's to wishing the next ten years are just as great!

*cheers*

Michelle said...

Looks like you're a real trooper! Way to go. :)

Keri Mikulski said...

What an amazing and honest post, Alyson. Extremely inspiring. Hugs and Happy 2010.

Chasing the Moon said...

I can't even imagine going through all of those things in the past ten years. It's amazing and inspiring to learn what you endured and what you achieved from this. Reminders like this are valuable to me as an aspiring author. Thank you! And thank you for writing the Immortal Series. I could not put down Evermore when I was on a camping trip last July. While everyone else was fishing out in the boat, I was reading!

Wishing you all the best in the year to come! :)

TheDreamer said...

wow. I can't believe it... you've been through so much grief? in such a short time? i'm really really sorry that you lost so many people... I hope that 2010 will be a happy and creative year for you...

Alyson Noel said...

Alyssa- Writing is such a great form of therapy isn't it?! All the best to you! :)

Michelle-- Thank you!

Keri- WIshing you and yours an awesome 2010!

Chasing the Moon- First- I love your "name"!! And second, thank you for all the kind words-- I really appreciate it and wish you the best on your writing!

The Dreamer- Love your "name" too! What doesn't kill us makes us stronger--I'm a firm believer in that!

Alyson Noel said...

Alyssa- Writing is such a great form of therapy isn't it?! All the best to you! :)

Michelle-- Thank you!

Keri- WIshing you and yours an awesome 2010!

Chasing the Moon- First- I love your "name"!! And second, thank you for all the kind words-- I really appreciate it and wish you the best on your writing!

The Dreamer- Love your "name" too! What doesn't kill us makes us stronger--I'm a firm believer in that!

no-ones-someone said...

thanks

Shelli said...

Ok i need a tissue. Thanks for sharing this. Its weird how tragedy can produce some beautiful things. Im sorry for your loss and "yay" for your successes. Im sure everyone on that "island" with Riley are smiling down on you - maybe even wearing colored wigs?? ;)

Alyson Noel said...

No ones someone- You're welcome.

Shelli- Aw yes, Riley and her fuschia wig--what fashion sense she has! :)

Anonymous said...

That's incredibly moving. I hope you have an amazing 2010 and I can't wait to see what plot twists you come up with for the remaining immortals books.

Alyson Noel said...

Thank you, Anonymous!! Happy New Year to you too!
:)

V. S said...

Beautiful post! I am truly sorry for all of your losses. This just shows your readers how strong you really are.

You're a great role model.

Alyson Noel said...

Hi V.S.- Thank you for the kind words!

Brooklynz_Angel said...

OMG & This is why u re truly one of my favorite authors, Not only do you have an amazing way with words you continue to count your blessings and stay down to earth. I think that you will go even farther than what you have already accomplished and as long as you keep writing ill keep reading =) Im hooked lol your stuck with me forever lol

Alyson Noel said...

Hi Brooklynz_Angel- Wow, thanks for leaving such a nice comment!! I will keep writing for sure!
:)

Jeanette said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful post, Alyson. Your story is truly inspiring! Wishing you all the best in 2010! :)

Alyson Noel said...

Thanks, Jeanette! You too!
:)

Anonymous said...

Dear Alyssa,
This is my first blog/comment I have ever written! I hope that this will help me find what I am looking for in life. I figure its worth a try. I want to know why you decided to publish you first book. I am sorry if you have already answered this question. I read evermore, and I am still on the other books. Ever was so confused about her life, she didn't know which path to choose. Love Damen and be with him forever, or life her life like a normal teenager. I feel I can relate to Ever. She was given a gift, to see moods, and I was given a gift as well. My however doesnt allow me to see moods or hear voices. Writing is your gift. How did you gift get discovered/ who did you trust your gift with? If your to busy its ok you dont have to answer. thanks for your time. toda raba (thank you)
SV

Gnat said...

i just read the book two minutes ago and as tradition i skipped to the computer to look up the sight. It was awsome! ;D

Alyson Noel said...

Hi SV- Thanks for all the kind words- I really appreciate it! To answer your question I decided to get my first book published because writing was always my dream and at that point in my life I figured I'd put off my dreams long enough and it was time to go after them! I made this happen by taking writing classes, reading books on the craft, studying the market and learning what I could about publishers and agents, and, of course, writing the best book I could at the time. After a few years of trying, an agent signed me, and sold my book to St. Martin's Press and I've been writing for them ever since!

Hope that explains it!

Alyson

Alyson Noel said...

Hi Gnat- Thank you so much, I'm thrilled you enjoyed it!
:)

barilotti said...

Have a really happy and fruitful New Year, Alyson. I just came to reead the first Immortals series book 3 days ago and today I finished Shadowland. Not a usual thing for me, especially that I'm a bit older than target audience. You teach kids beautiful things in these books, I can compare the feeling with what I had when I read Lewis's Narnia Chronicles. So keep up with your Way and let all you close ones be safe.

Alyson Noel said...

Barilotti- Thank you so much for taking the time to write that--it really means a lot to me!
All the best to you and yours!
Alyson