The fateful call by Deb Anna

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.


(In an apparent homage to one of my favorite movies, Memento — if you haven’t seen it, Netflix it now — I’m choosing to tell this story backwards.)

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?

18 Replies to “The fateful call by Deb Anna”

  1. News that I’d never have to work again was pretty nice to get. The news that I can spend hours in Gucci or Prada always sends me over the moon. So did the news from the love of my life, that I could pick out any diamond ring I wanted. But those are material things. They all pale next to: “They made an offer.” I’d trade all future shopping sprees at Gucci (but not the diamond) for that kind of news.

  2. At the risk of sounding utterly sappy — but truthful –, good news comes in daily moments. Just by reading your post, Anna, I felt the joy in sharing a seemingly impossible dream come true. Thank you.

  3. Actually I did not have time to agonize when my novel sold, but my moment was “the call” from my agent to tell me she LOVED my book and wanted to represent me.
    It was 5:30 in the morning as she thought Hawaii was like California – 3 hours from NY! She was appalled when she realized how early she called me. I lied and said I was up anyway as I can’t ever admit ANYONE can ever wake me up by a phone call. I was pacing back and forth talking…feeling my feet wet and realized both my cats had hurled on the floor and my toes were covered in cat vomit!
    Here I am slipping around talking about where I see my writing career going… The best part?
    It was my late mother’s birthday. She would have been 86 years old.
    Thanks Mom.

  4. These comments are all so great. I just have to add that I could use some news of the Maia variety. And Patricia, that’s so lovely that it was your Mom’s birthday. And I have to say that yours made me laugh – my cats also have this uncanny ability to throw up at the most ridiculous times in the most ridiculous places. (When I first got sober and did all this journal-y writing about how much my sobriety meant to me but then ended up relapsing, my cat threw up all over said journal entry.)

  5. After I posted that comment yesterday morning, I went around all day worrying everyone would think I was a spoiled trophy wife. Thing is, I’m not married, yet (just got the ring), but my fiance (I still call him my boyfriend) thinks I shouldn’t be sullied by physical toil. I don’t think ten hours a day writing is physical toil, but some might. Anyway, suffice to say I am spoiled in some eyes, although I will tell a secret other spoiled women wouldn’t want me to reveal: there really is an emotional price to pay for diamonds, Prada, Gucci, and Hermes.

  6. Anna, what a great story! I love having these topics. We get to hear so many different aspects of everyone! 😀

    Maia, honey, I’m thrilled that you’re spoiled. If I could say “you go girl” without collapsing in a fit of absurdity I would. Off you go, get yourself another ring, darlin’!

    Edit: I debated taking the second part of my comment down because it has been pointed out to me that, for those who don’t know me, it might come across as mean-spirited, or a jab. In fact, what I meant to get across was screw anyone who says you’re spoiled! There are few people who didn’t work damn hard to get where they’re at in life, and they deserve every bit of what they’ve worked for. It’s actually something I feel quite strongly about, not making any apologies for or excuses for why you “have” what you have. I know, simply from reading Maia’s blog and her profile that she’s worked all her life, and I hope she, and all of you, get every single thing your heart desires. And I hope you didn’t even get it on sale! The reason I didn’t go ahead and delete it was to make sure that anyone who read it and might have be uncertain of my intentions would be very clear of what they actually were. My most humble apologies to anyone I might have offended and I will try to be more aware of the fact that tone doesn’t always come through in a format like this. 


  7. Hmm, I don’t know what to say. I was the one who took Kristy’s comment the wrong way, but she was too big a person to say that in her post. It takes two to tango, so I’ll take responsibility for my own reaction. I usually hide the fact that I’m living what some people might think is a charmed life, because I’ve been dismissed as someone without much to say, just a dumb blonde on the arm of a rich man.

    I’ve felt accepted on this forum, by a group of people who share their experiences openly. I wanted to get it across that my “charmed life” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and hoped it didn’t come across as bragging in any way. So I overreacted to Kristy’s remark. Thanks, Kristy for your comments. This shows you have a big heart and are a woman of integrity, a woman I’m proud to know on the blogosphere. Enough already. I’d like to forget this happened!

  8. Ladies and gentlemen (aka, Eileen’s dad), The Debutante Ball’s first miscommunication, altercation, and resolution! Gotten through in record time 😀 Whew, had to happen sometime, right?

    Move along, move along, nothing to see here folks…

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