When I received the author’s copies of my latest book, For My Lady’s Honor, one of the first things I had to check out was the dedication. For some reason I always worry the dedication will get messed up in some way—or worse, won’t be there at all. I don’t know why I expect that to happen, since there has never been a single thing wrong with any of them. Even all the names have been spelled correctly!
Book dedications are really important to me. I’ve dedicated books to family, to friends, to editors—to people who have meant something to me, for any number of reasons. Once I’ve decided who to dedicate a book to, it sometimes it takes me a while to not only figure out what I want to say, but how best to say it. I always read dedications and acknowledgements in other people’s books—in part because I’m nosy (well, I am a writer—it’s not nosiness, it’s curiosity, an inquiring mind . . . sure it is:-)), and because what the dedication says tells me something about the author (maybe I am nosy).
So what does the dedication in For My Lady’s Honor say about me?
The most obvious fact is that I love my son, my daughter-in-law, and my late grandmother. Something just as important to me as honoring them was to show that my grandmother was a unique and wonderful person (I’m sure the mention of wrestling raises a few questions :-)).
Over the years I spent a lot of time with Grammy, and I learned an infinite number of things from her. As far as I know, she never wrote anything longer than a letter, but she did teach me the elusive Holy Grail of writing . . .
. . . the Secret Handshake.
You know—that mysterious something that published authors know (or so it's said), and the unpublished ones don’t?
Perseverance. Stick-to-itiveness. Sheer, unadulterated stubbornness.
So much of what I’ve learned about dedication, I learned from her. When you get knocked down, pick yourself up and give it another shot. Don’t be satisfied with just getting something done; do it the best you can. Be loyal to those who matter to you, to those things that matter to you—and don’t apologize for it. If you’ve done your best at something, be proud of what you’ve done, even if it doesn’t work out right this time around.
I don’t know if I’d be the kind of person willing to stick around for so long in this business without learning those skills. The romance writing biz is not for the faint of heart, or those who are easily discouraged. Being able to keep hold of the dream of continued publication in the face of reality is vital; if you don’t believe in your work (and yourself), who will?
When the going has been rough, I’ve drawn upon the stubbornness and dedication I learned (and inherited!) from her. I’m a writer. I’m still at it, and I don’t plan on quitting, no matter what.
Thanks, Grammy. You couldn’t have given me a more valuable gift.