Saturday, September 13, 2008

Give Me Patience--NOW!

Book concept? Check. Find an agent? Check. Cash royalty check? No check. Turns out, the real work was just beginning. First thing up was to create a book proposal. Remember those book reports you wrote in the 4th grade? Well, it turns out that they were actually important, as a proposal is basically the same thing--just an expanded description of the book, without the diorama. And to be honest, this one was a lot more fun to write than the one I penned on Pippi Longstockings. In that one, I couldn't write combinations of double-entendre and cooking directions. Ooh-la-la!

Andrea and I tweaked it a few times before we were satisfied with a final copy, and then I gave her my blessings to send it off to publishers. Now, the scenario that formed in my brain played out something like this: Weary, jaded publishers, tired of the same old submissions would see this new and amazing idea leap on their computer screen. "Eureka!" they would all shout simultaneously, their excited voices echoing across the miles that separated them. With blurred fingers, they would write back to Andrea, "We must have this book! Money is no object!" Of course, Andrea, being the great agent she is, would announce, with accompanying fanfare, that the bidding war was now on. Within 24 hours, endless flurries of bidding and outbidding would almost crash Andrea's computer system until she would finally blurt out, "Enough!", accepting the multimillion dollar offer with options for film and music rights.

Yeah, I know. But it was such a wonderful dream.

In reality, days, weeks, then months crept by. Yes, we had some nibbles from several publishers and some very encouraging notes of praise, but no offers. With each rejection received, I began taking them a little too hard, as I am not the most patient person in the world. Once I get something in my head, I want it done yesterday. Plus, I was telling everybody that I had co-written a book that was being shopped around for a publisher, and it was very difficult to keep saying that we hadn't found one yet and to keep saying it in my perky, cheerleader tone. My Voice of Reason (aka Andrea) just kept calmly explaining that this was very common, and she was confident of a sale. I tried to believe her and stay patient. I really did.

Then I did the unthinkable: I let a sniggle of doubt eat away at my resolve to become a published author. This unfortunately coincided with the arrival of the holiday credit card bills. The result was me trudging, head hung low, to the nearest school district office to begin the application process for substitute teacher. Duh-duh-duhhhhhh. With a heavy heart, I forced myself to dig out my resume. I cringed as I had write an enthusiastic paragraph that explained my passion for becoming an overpaid babysitter. I forced on a happy face as I sat through an interview, where the nice lady explained that my phone would begin ringing around 5:00 each morning to see if I was available. I had fingerprints taken, background checks performed, and TB antibodies plunged into my arm. All I had left to do was sit through one more orientation on district policy, and I was officially in. I couldn't have been more depressed if I had been waiting in the express lane at the gallows.

Do you believe in fate? Karma? Un-fricken-believable luck? I'm not sure which qualifies for this next part of the story, but I will profess to believe in all of the above, just so that I don't tick off the responsible party. As I was getting dressed for that last orientation, feet literally feeling like lead as I got closer to the hour to leave, my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID screen and saw the name and number of an angel: Andrea. It was Andrea. Andrea was calling me. The only time we had talked on the phone was when we were just starting our relationship, and the rest was via e-mail. I've heard people say that their heart skipped a beat, and at that moment, I understood what they meant. Lub-dub----dub. It was Andrea.

But by the second ring, my mind spun into reverse. What if she was calling to say that she'd given up; that she had tried her best, but only the four of us thought the book was good? Could I bear to hear her say those words? (I told you before that we writers are a neurotic bunch!) A third ring, and I knew I had to answer it and seal my fate, one way or another.

If I had to take a test on what she said verbatim on that February morning, I'd outright flunk. All I know is that my brain processed the information somehow through my pounding heart and sobbing tears: WE FOUND A PUBLISHER! O-MI-GOSH! Even as I write this, I am tearing up again. This was so unbelievably incredible. It was like Christmas and birthdays and prom night and first kiss and wishing on a star all rolled into one. I'm surprised I didn't blow a fuse, because I believe that moment now qualifies as one of my very finest memories, along with my wedding day and the birth of my children, and one that I will take with me to the end of this lifetime, and possibly on to the next. If I sound overly melodramatic, I apologize, but I had never had a dream come true before, and it was a pretty heady feeling, to say the very least. I highly recommend it!

I'm not sure why, but after I finished gushing/crying/jumping, I chose to go to the orientation. It was a very bad decision, because if they had quizzed me on what was presented, they would have strongly recommended tutoring and possible attention deficit medication. I know I sat in a chair at a u-shaped desk with a dozen other people, I know that someone was always talking, and I know they let us go after about two hours. Beyond that, you got me. My mind was reeling with all the things still left to do with the book, how to spend the royalty checks, and what to wear on Oprah.

Up next, reversing a substitute teaching application and chasing men through an upscale shopping venue while wearing heels.

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