I bought myself a fountain pen today. Haven’t owned one in years. As much of a tech-geek as I am, there is still something satisfying about the tactile sensation of pen in hand. Or book, for that matter.
I printed out my manuscript today also, in between helping my step-son clean his room. (He’s a sock hoarder and just came into my office wearing an exposed brain and his Captain America mask – he’s going as zombie Cap for Halloween.) Anyway, I printed out my manuscript because as much as I love computers, it’s damn difficult to do an extensive rewrite without being able to see the whole thing laid out before you.
The reason for the rewrite? Two and a half weeks ago I got “the call” … you know, that thing that most serious aspiring authors wait for.
As a friend pointed out, I handled that call – from Andrew Zack at The Zack Company – as I have handled other important phone calls from men in my life.
I hung up on him.
*laughs* To be fair, I didn’t know it was him when I hung up the phone and I hadn’t meant to answer it at all. I was at work, in the middle of a rather frantic day and trying to figure something out with a co-worker about a customer when my phone rang. I reached over and thought that I swiped to decline. I didn’t and half a second later realized I’d answered the call, so I hung up. I didn’t recognize the number after all.
Thankfully, Andy called me back and left a message. A message I retrieved once the excitement at work had been dealt with and I had a free moment. Of course, I sat in shock for a few minutes, flailed around, called one of my CPs (Lisa, of course, wanted to know what I was doing calling her instead of Andy. *laughs*) and then finally collected myself enough to go into the back of the office and call Andy back.
We chatted a bit, I mentioned I was at work and that I could talk more after I got home.
I’m not even going to play this cool, folks. After we got off the phone I punched the air and did a celebratory dance in my boss’s office. I have wanted this for years, have been working toward it for close to ten years. I have been through ten complete novels and just as many partials. I have written close to two million words in my lifetime. I have suffered through rejections on six novels, turned down an offer on one because as much as I loved the story I decided it wasn’t how I wanted to start my career. I have queried and subbed and WAITED. I have been this close *holds fingers apart* and had the devastating news pounce on me from my mailbox.
I took my hits. I shelved stories I loved because I knew they just weren’t going to work right now. I listened to the rejections to see what I could learn from them. I was patient. I was determined. I recognized the value of listening to what others had to say about my work and used that to be better. I killed my darlings – ripped my latest work to pieces after Andrew rejected my original version of Behind The Throne and made it better.
And it worked. It took two years and a train ride, but it worked. I got the call from an agent I had decided I wanted to work with when I started this book. I still have a lot of work to do and yet another rewrite in the works, but I am optimistic and I think in the end it will make the story so much better. It will make it into the story I’ve wanted to tell along and share with you.
So what should you take from all of this? The road to publication is different for everyone. I have very dear friends who’ve made it look easy, but even I know that looks can be deceiving and they had struggles of their own and moments when they thought it would never happen.
It’s not always fast and it’s not always pretty. Sometimes it’s a slog through the mud, brutal and exhausting and you never think you’re going to see the light of day again. Lucky for me, I like playing in the mud. *smiles* But even I hit points where I wondered just why I was doing this and if I’d ever get the chance to move forward. Now I have that chance and I’m ridiculously excited and grateful to Andy for giving it to me.