It’s been one whole year since Oh My Gods! came out. It simultaneously feels like just yesterday and also like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in this year which I won’t ramble on about again (but you can check out my wrap-up post here).

Sometimes it felt like Oh My Gods! would never happen. It started out as an idea that Insha and I had years ago and we couldn’t let it go. We loved the concept, characters, and world. We found Juliana and knew we had our missing piece of the puzzle. From there, the feeling that we had to make this book happen only intensified. We originally thought that we’d release it in single issues within the comic industry (aka the direct market). We had some interest but ultimately nothing really panned out. And then we had someone at a traditional book publisher interested! We hadn’t yet connected with our agent, Maria Vicente (amazing agent goddess extraordinaire), and the editor advised us that if we wanted to work with them, we’d need to agent up.

That brought us to Maria’s doorstep and we began the process of trying to get a deal together. Eventually, it fell through, and after putting Oh My Gods! out on submission to other publishers, we were back to square one. We began to think that if we were going to make the book, we’d have to do it ourselves via crowdfunding and self-publishing. We still loved our story, characters, concept, etc. but we made peace with the fact that it might not happen in the way we had hoped it would.

Several months later, I wrapped up writing ParaNorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse. My editor (perfect editor goddess extraordinaire, Lily) reached out to my agent to inquire if I had any other projects looking for a home. We pitched Oh My Gods! and Lily just got it. She understood what we were trying to do with it and after reworking a few things—including aging it down from YA to middle-grade—she acquired it for publication at HMH (now Clarion). AND with a sequel attached (a two-book deal!)

Funnily enough, even though I had already been working on ParaNorthern for months by the time HMH even bought Oh My Gods!, it was announced first and scheduled for publication first.

Publishing isn’t always a linear journey. The thing we think will be “it” sometimes turns out to, well, not be. And we have to keep moving forward with our stories, projects, and ideas. What I’ve learned since this all began is that things will happen when they’re meant to happen. If one project doesn’t get picked up right away, it doesn’t mean that it won’t someday; it’s just maybe not the right time. That being said, rejection is never easy to handle though. It can be hard to brush off, especially if it’s a project that’s near and dear to you…which they almost all are. They come from your heart and soul. Someone not wanting to make your story a reality feels like a rejection of yourself sometimes. But it’s important to try to separate those feelings and keep pushing yourself to create new and exciting things that you’re passionate about.

At the end of the day, we no longer need publishers to help us tell our stories. There are so many avenues that allow us to connect with audiences on our own. It’s always nice to be validated but someone saying no to you or your story doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. It’s a lot of work to self-publish or even crowdfund but those options are there.

That being said, if writing and storytelling is your passion, it’s great to have goals. Absolutely have ambition and work towards achieving them. But remember that you should be your own #1 fan. It’s a bit of an oxymoron because creatives tend to suffer from a lot of imposter syndrome. However, if you aren’t necessarily able to compliment your own writing, being the biggest champion of your story and characters will give you the passion to tell the best version possible.

If I can leave this reflection with some advice for any creatives out there reading this, here it is: be kind to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others—success is different for all of us. Don’t let other people define your creativity and your storytelling. Stick with the projects you love, be open to constructive feedback, and give yourself space from your stories when you need it. And above all else, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have what it takes. Feed your soul with whatever you’re passionate about and thrive on it.