Did you feel a tingle in the air this morning? A slight but fundamental shifting of the balance of the universe?
That wasn't indigestion, my friend - today is truly an exceptional day. Because today, Carolyn Williamson (writing as Carolyn Rae) has had her first fiction book published: a romantic suspense novel called Romancing The Gold.
"Romantic suspense? That doesn't sound like your usual."
It isn't! In fact, it's more like my Never Have I Ever (though I fully intend to correct that, starting with this one here!)
But let me tell you why this is A Thing.
See, Carolyn is a founding member of my workshop, the DFW Writers Workshop - which opened in 1977. And when I visited NTRWA last week, I found out that not only is she a founding member there too (since 1983!), but they've named their most prestigious award after her - the Carolyn Award.
And no, your math ain't wrong: she's been at this for over 35 years. I don't know what she was doing back during the disco craze, but I can tell you this: I've seen her at DFWWW pretty much every week since I joined. Organizing the read list. Bringing little goodies in. Standing up during every call for submissions and rejections. And - here's the key point - always, always reading something new. She hasn't just been taking up space on the roster since the Carter administration: she's been working full tilt, flat out, to go the distance and make the dream happen. Along the way, she's published cookbooks and articles, learned and taught, raised a family and travelled the world.
Shoot, I remember last year, when this book was first picked up for publication. How we cheered! How excited we were for her! ...and how astonishing it was to hear her stand up, less than a month before its release date, to announce that the publisher had gone out of business.
And let's be real, guys: when your three-decades-overdue ship finally comes in, only to sink at the dock, you would be well within your rights to hurl your Underwood into a bonfire and crawl into a bottle of Wild Turkey. Not Carolyn. She went with us to IHOP, ordered herself a big ice cream sundae, and then got right back on the wagon.
And here we are today.
Y'know, my friend Shay said something really wonderful a couple of weeks ago - about how you need other writers, not just to help you get where you want to go, but also to show you how to be where you already are. How to thrive at your current milestone, and keep pushing forward to the next one. For me, Carolyn is both. When I get to be her age, I want to be as legendary as she is - to have that diamond-bright reputation as an avatar of service, passion, and perseverance (and if people want to name an award after me, I won't say no!) But I also want to emulate her cheerful, dauntless resilience, right now, today - and we at DFWWW are so lucky to have that modelled for us, every Wednesday night of the year.
Maybe you are not that lucky. Maybe you don't get to hang out with Carolyn like I do. Fortunately, she's on Facebook and has a blog - and as hard as she's worked on it, I strongly suspect her book is as exceptional as she is. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.