Sure, we dream about it. When I started querying agents I’d fantasize about it happening every. single. time my phone rang. Every single time my phone notified me of an incoming email. Life became a constant game of “Is this it?” followed by a let down. Oh, it’s just my sister calling to ask how my day’s going. It’s my husband letting me know he’s on his way home. (Yes, I know how messed up that sounds.)
The thing is, I was letting this hope take over my life. It was hard to be in any moment when all I wanted was to be in this other moment—the dream I’d concocted when things would suddenly be perfect. Its shiny appeal made everything else seem dull. But dreams are supposed to enhance our lives, not rob it of all meaning if they don’t come true.
Slowly, I got back to my normal pleasures. I got back to working, to writing, to living. I was writing a blog post one morning in February 2011 when my phone rang and interrupted my train of thought. I was actually kind of annoyed by it, and quickly went to silence it. In the moment I least expected, in the moment when I was accomplishing the nearly impossible task of not thinking about the book, it happened. The 212 number. The offer of representation from an agent.
That was call number one. Call number two—the book deal—came a year and eight months later. Again, not the way I expected. Not for the book I thought would sell. Not in the quick week or two I thought it’d happen. It wasn’t even a call, really, it was an email.
But it happened the way it was meant to.
I’d like to say that after being on submission with agents, I learned my lesson about putting life on hold when it was time to go on submission to publishers. But old (ok, newly-acquired habits) die hard.
Months passed and still no book deal. I was walking my dogs when I did some terrifying math: if I’d written 1000 words for every day I’d been on submission, I’d have a rough draft of a new novel. Suddenly the only thing more terrifying than not having my book sell was having nothing to show for it at the end of this very long waiting period.
So again, I got back to work, to writing, to living. I wrote and edited Chasing the Sun and when I found myself on submission once again, I decided to turn my attention elsewhere.
I was at a conference on sustainability and green living in October 2012 when I saw the little unopened envelope icon on my phone. I figured it was another annoying Facebook notification. The absolute last thing I expected, because by some miracle, I wasn’t thinking about the book, was to see an email from my agent, with subject line: “Amazon really likes your book!” She wanted to know if I had time to talk.
I was standing in a conference center courtyard when that call happened. I was lying in bed reading a book when the next call happened, a week later, to say my publishing deal was final. I was gathering doggie poop bags and looking for washing machines online when other, equally exciting calls happened.
If I’m lucky, there will still be several Calls in my future, but I have no idea when the next one will happen. The only thing I know for sure is that it’ll be when I’m busy doing something other than holding my breath, because life waits for no one.
What were you doing in the moment you last received some great, life-changing news?
Latest posts by Natalia Sylvester (see all)
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- The One Thing I Hope to Do Differently for the Next Book - Tuesday, August 12, 2014
- Anish Majumdar on Writing About Mental Illness, Fiction as Truth + Giveaway of THE ISOLATION DOOR - Saturday, August 9, 2014