Don't misunderstand me. I wrote Fairest of Them All in 2 years--not 16, and my agent sold my story shortly after I finished it. But the 7 novel manuscripts before FOTA were the result of lots and lots of writing trial and error. During those dry years, I'd hear a story at a writing conference from someone who'd dashed out his or her first manuscript in a month, popped it into the mail, and--isn't it wonderful--had it plucked out of the slush pile and rushed into publication by the end of the year. After each overnight success story I was torn between pelting the lucky writer with the remains of my breakfast muffin or slinking back to my motel room and curling into the fetal position for the rest of the weekend.
This is the place for me to say how much sweeter success is when it's been years in the making. With no means for comparison, I can't say whether it is or isn't. But next April when I see someone holding a copy of Fairest of Them All, it's going to taste sweeter than a pound of dark chocolate.