When I got the call from my agent telling me HarperCollins had made an offer on my novel, I was cleaning the toilet. It’s funny… you envision moments like this, fantasize about them for months and years, then when they happen, they never quite play out the way you had imagined.
I was in my rattiest house cleaning clothes. I had the white plastic brush in my hand and was scrubbing away with my eco-friendly, non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner when the phone rang. I grabbed the cordless phone from the sink (my partner was watching our daughter, so I was on phone duty) and answered it. I was thinking it was my father. And, expecting it to be my father, I was fully prepared to keep cleaning while we talked. So I was still holding the toilet brush.
What happened next is a blur in my mind. It began something like this:
“Jennifer? It’s Dan. I’ve got some good news.”
And then he told me. And I was amazed and stunned and in shock and I don’t remember what I said. Maybe just “Oh my god,” which is a really boring thing to say but it just kind of comes out. But inside, my heart was singing and screaming. It was one of those surreal, am I dreaming? kind of moments.
I had been waiting SO long. This was my fourth novel. (The first two had made the rounds with my first agent who’d dumped me after reading Promise Not To Tell, and novel number three was a horrible mess and had been stuffed in a drawer.) I’d been writing fiction, more or less full time, for six years. And we’d had some close calls with this book; so many it’s-really-good-but-I-have-to-pass moments. And my agent had already sent it seemingly everywhere. I was beginning to lose hope, to think that maybe it was time to give up and start pinning all my hopes on novel number five (which I didn’t really have!).
My agent told some of the details, but to be honest, they didn’t matter right that second. What mattered was that an editor at HarperCollins loved my book and wanted to publish it.
When I hung up, I realized I was still gripping the toilet brush; holding it in the air a little, like some kind of down and dirty, dripping magic wand.
Poof. You’re a real writer now. An honest to god, soon-to-be-published writer.
I dropped the brush and screamed.