If you been following this blog, you know that my mission is to chart my progress from couch potato extraordinaire to budding writer with a Knight Agency contract. We need to take another detour, because baby, I’ll never have to wear one of those sodding Aspiring Author tags again.
The sale of Hedi’s Book of Rules
April 28th, Thursday, around noon.
I’m in the computer room. It’s raining outside, or at least it has been, on and off all day. If I turn my head, I can watch the mid-day news running video clips of the destruction left by yesterday’s tornadoes. The southern states got hit hard. I don’t turn my head. My agent’s home just missed being severely damaged, and it makes me queasy to think that she’d been so close to such devastation. She’s fine, she keeps telling me, except she has no internet. However, her blackberry is working just fine–which cheers me no end, because it’s becoming clear to me that this is the day that I will sell my book.
See? There goes another fantasy. Deal-making brings up the image of NYC offices, speaker phones, and somehow, strangely, fierce-looking women in grey pencil skirts. (Hey, I am an author, my mind will add details.) But that’s not what’s happening today. Deidre is juggling the offers with a blackberry, a damaged neighbourhood, and sheer Southern grit. THAT’s why you want a good agent.
How’d I get here? I didn’t open my eyes this morning, thinking “today’s the day!” Instead I woke with a start to the sound of thunder. It wasn’t the usual comforting rumble; it was a clap, horrifically loud–as if Zeus had got pissed off and slammed his hand down on the counter just to point that out.
I knew about last night’s tornadoes. It usually takes a day or two for some of that wind to make it up north. And sometimes, even up here, north of the 49th parallel, we get twister warnings. So I got out of bed right away, because that type of noise meant business, and I had no intention of surviving a house collapse only to die of embarrassment because I’d emerged naked from the ruins. I layered on some clothing, and made the bed, and told myself that it was enough. “Okay, you silly twit,” I said to myself. “Stop worrying about whether or not anyone liked your book. Get off your ass and get back to work.”
And then the blackberry messages started.
Clearly, today is the day.
The aftermath, Thursday, eight p.m.
The emails went back and forth, forth and back, all day, right up to six p.m. Sometimes my blackberry would ping with another message before I finished thumbing a reply to the last one. There were phone calls too–but since all my portable receivers had static from the storm, I ended up standing in the kitchen, using the wall phone, listening hard. I’d misplaced my slippers, and my feet were freezing, but somehow between the flurry of phone calls and emails, I never got around to going upstairs and filching a pair of my husband’s socks. My gaze was restless, constantly moving from object to another. The kitchen counter wasn’t tidy; the pond needed to be drained and cleaned, and there was dust on the dining room table.
It was so awesomely mundane. It was day out of Leigh’s life, and yet it wasn’t.
In the midst of the drama, I called my sister, and told her what was happening. And just like me, she went real quiet. Not because she’s terribly reserved, but because she’s my sister. She knows me in and out, and always will, and thus, understood completely, when I huskily whispered, “When I think back to four years ago…” A long silence, and then finally she said, “Yes.” Her voice was thread-thin.
Four years ago, finishing a book was an almost-dead dream. Perhaps two years ago, I started to think, maybe I could write something worthy of being published? Over the last year I’d relentlessly pursued that end goal, squashing down every squeak of fear. But had I ever visualized the moment?
No, that I hadn’t done.
If I had stopped to think about it, I would have imagined that I’d dance around. Spin in a circle tra-la-la-ing “Look at me!”, but none of those activities appealed. First off, I’m Canadian and that means a certain amount of squashed reactions. And also, it’s because I’m seasoned; up to now I thought I’d seen it all, done it all, heard it all…silly me. After I made that final horrible decision between two great offers and it was horrible–thankfully, Deidre was there to counsel me–I just went real quiet inside. I thought back to how despairing of life I’d felt four years ago; like I was done, finished, not of any use anymore–and how terribly different I felt now.
My life had changed dramatically in the space of one afternoon, and I had been the one to turn it around. Yeah, go ahead. Slap me on the ass and call me stupid. Who knew? Oprah was right. You can change your life if you follow your passion.
It’s not easy to do it. You have to be committed to your dream. And you need to expend a hell of a lot of energy smothering that voice that taunts you and reminds you that you’re too–well, whatever it is that you think you’re too much or too little of.
Here’s the thing I want you to remember. If you quit, you’ll never fail, but you’ll also never succeed. I’m the most unlikely candidate for success you’ll ever meet. But it happened. I did it.
You can too.
So, in a year or so, look for the first of three books about Hedi Peacock. The working title is Hedi’s Book of Rules, but that may or can change. I’ll let you know if it does. I’m beyond happy and humbled by the fact that St. Martin’s Press has given me the green light to write Hedi’s story.
I’ve already talked to my editor, Holly Blanck. I like her.
There will be more work up ahead. And learning. And frustration.
And yes, much joy.