The fateful call came in the most modern form possible: as an email.
Who knew four words could cause so much joy — the kind that when you’re experiencing, you swear you’ll never be sad about anything ever again, that made the past year of pounding words into a keyboard feel worthwhile, that provided a tangible antidote to the committee of naysayers I seem to have living in my head?
They’ve made an offer. That’s all it said.
Three days earlier, I’d returned from New York where I’d been meeting with the editors who liked my book.
Let me back up even further. (Right now, I have an image of Guy Pearce, shirtless, with all those tattoos he needed to remember everything resplendent on his perfect body…but I digress.) I’d finished writing my first book. I’d found the agent. The agent had sent it out. Then, because she’s a genius, she asked me to book a ticket to New York and then called each editor and said, “Actually, it turns out that Anna’s going to be in town to meet with everyone who’s interested in buying the book (none of which existed obviously when she first said it). Would you like to meet her?”
It was a genius plan and worked to perfection. The editors read my material right away and responded (some with passes, but more with interest). I got to have a series of please-pinch-me-these-things-don’t-happen-to-me meetings, where rooms full of people dressed better than me told me what a brilliant writer I was and acted like they’d do almost anything to be the ones in charge of introducing it to the world. But it was also one of the most maddening experiences of my life because they were only expressing interest, not giving me an offer. It was like going to a job interview to be told you were absolutely perfect for the job only to walk out and realize you’re not even sure if you’ve begun the interview process yet. I was so close to getting something I’d always wanted but there was still the chance that I was only going to be able to press my nose against the glass of the dream.
The book auction, my agent explained, would be the following Monday.
I came home. I tried to think of other things, to no avail. I told myself 48 hours wasn’t that long to have to wait before realizing it was, in fact, an eternity. That Monday held all the excited anticipation that Christmas used to have in my Christmas-Tree-Jewish household (before Aunt Cyrene told me when I was four that there was no Santa Claus — but that’s really for another entry).
The first news I got was that the house we were the most confident about passed. No official reason. They just did. I felt like it was all over. I was silly. This dream was never going to come true. Who did I think I was that I could write and sell a book? I stared at all the books on my shelves, too shocked to even cry, tracing my fingers over the spines and gazing at the names of all the publishers that had rejected me (it had only been submitted to a handful of editors at that point, but I milked the heartbreaking drama of the moment for all that I could).
Amazingly, it turned out to just be a moment. I heard the ping of incoming email, rushed back to the computer and saw it was from my agent. I had just been composing an email to her in my head about how it was kind of her to take an interest in me and everything but I’d been thinking about it and clearly this writing thing wasn’t for me.
They’ve made an offer it said, referring to my first-choice publisher, the one I’d been sure hadn’t really been that interested in me.
The moment was so good that when I swore I’d never be sad about anything ever again, I even believed myself.
Have you ever gotten news so good that you made yourself that promise? When and what was it?
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