Monday, December 20, 2010

When you get there you find it's only a corner

Friday I received a call while working on my newsletters. A call from my agent. She said she was on the brink of a contract for my long-worked novel. She predicted something would happen that day. I hoped so, but I've never been one to count chickens before they hatch, so I grabbed my coat and headed to the gym, hoping to get in some laps around the track. The phone rings. My son says my agent has called back to let me know the publisher would call me in 15 minutes. Can we say u-turn?

Long story short, I have a contract for my mystery, and they are considering my series - already reading the second manuscript. I keep waiting for the shoe to fall, the bells to ring, something. But my days are still passing normally to include FundsforWriters deadlines.

I'm happy - I'm stunned! I worked for years trying to publish. I rewrote multiple times because it hadn't caught the eye of an agent. I sent out 72 agent queries as well as a few publisher queries. Took two years to find an agent. Once I landed an agent (bless her heart, she's wonderful), it took a year and a half or more to find a publisher.

I started this book 12 years ago.

I've stumbled so many times with this effort.

I read, like you, all those articles and blog posts from authors and agents telling me to be patient, work hard, and keep fighting the good fight. I didn't mind, really. I love to write. I have fun with my stories. They are hard to write well, and I've cried, cursed and screamed some nights, but they are forever in my head. So no matter what was my destiny, I wrote.

Frankly, some nights, it was hard telling my readers to be stubborn and persevere when I thought about throwing the novel in the trash. But a few days after a fitful fight with myself, I would return to the chapter and work again. I figured I'd do this until I could no longer sit at the keyboard. Like gardening, it helped me be me.

But suddenly the plan worked. It's funny . . . those who write understand how marvelous this moment is. Those who aren't writers but know I write tell me that's great without understanding what great really is. They give me a smile like I've grown a prize tomato or made an A on a term paper. It must be nice or I wouldn't be bragging, so they brag, too. I smile back, thanking them for the congratulations, but inside I want to dance - and I want someone to dance with me who understands.

It's like turning 21, getting married, retiring, moving or graduating. It's a milestone in your journey, but for some reason you wake up the next morning and don't feel changed. Different, but not altered. It's nice, but nobody can tell when they walk by you.

But your life has changed. It changed for the good. You worked hard and got somewhere. It's not all for nothing anymore. But the remarkable aspect is that you keep working. You haven't arrived anywhere. You just turned a corner. Now let's see where this road takes us.


graywave said...

Nailed it! I had my moment late last year and everything you say is true.

And congratulations, on finding a good agent and on finally turning that corner. Keep us all posted.

Linda O'Connell said...

Yes! High five, congratulations!!

Alexis Grant said...

Whoa CONGRATS!!!!!

I know what you mean about feeling different, but not altered... It's one GREAT milestone, but you've got so much more life ahead of you.

Can't wait to hear more!!

Mary Ingmire said...

What a wonderful Christmas gift for you! Here's hoping the series will be picked up. Thank you for sharing the joys and frustrations.

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations!!! A contract for Christmas is an awesome gift.

Unknown said...

Congratulations! I see a holly, jolly holidays in store for you!

carol j alexander said...

Hope, You say someone can walk past you and not even know. When you get engaged you can flash a diamond their way. There must be something...a T-shirt that says, "I sold my book" perhaps? Just know I'm dancing with you!

Anonymous said...

Yes - good one - inspirational.
Great about your good news.

Kelli said...

We're so happy for you! You've shared your experiences of writing and pursuing a writing contract - can't wait to read about your experiences having the contract and seeing your manuscript in print). Congratulations!

Gwendolyn Hooks said...

It's wonderful news. I felt I been there all the way with you by reading your blogs. Way to go!

Christina Katz said...

Way to go, Hope! I'm a Verna fan, too. Merry Christmas!
:) Christina

Dena Dyer said...

Congrats, Hope. I appreciate you telling us how many times you had to revise and submit, revise again and submit again. I had over 50 rejections on several proposals before I sold my first book. Many (or should I say MOST) aspiring writers quit too soon!