Once upon a time, about a month ago (roughly), I thought I was a writer. A real writer, not just the kind that plucks away at the keys on her laptop, does a brief spellcheck (or not), hits "publish," and then goes merrily on her way.
I thought maybe I'd try something different. Something I'd been itching to do but never got around to doing. Something daring, bold and adventurous!
Since my husband was away at a N.A.S.C.A.R. (Non Athletic Sport Centered Around Rednecks) race for a few days, I had found that time. I sat down at my computer and researched "literary agencies." Upon much investigation, I closed my eyes, spun around twice and pointed my finger at the screen. The first one I landed on, or near, would be the one I would submit my query to and I was off!
I wrote a brief description of my work and emailed it to the proper people. Then I went to bed and forgot all about it.
The very next day, much to my amazement, I had an email from the agency I'd contacted. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, figuring it was awfully soon to be getting my rejection notice, and I opened the email.
It was a very nicely written note explaining that while this particular publisher wasn't a good fit for my work, they were passing my query along to a "traditional" publisher whom they were certain would be interested.
"Okay - foot, meet door," I thought to myself as I assembled a long line of toaster waffles for my hungry children and poured myself a big cup of coffee (yes, I drink coffee now - I figured if I wanted to be a writer I'd better learn to love coffee or I'd surely fail).
A few days later, on an actual business day, not the weekend, I got another email. The "traditional" publisher was interested in seeing more of my work and learning about me. Detailed questions were asked and answered. Quick replies were given on my part and I began to feel what would become the all-too familiar feeling of nervous anticipation for the next few weeks.
I sent all 37,000 of my words away and I waited.
During this time I began to daydream. I'd imagine myself sitting in a bookstore, drinking coffee (of course!) and signing copies of my hugely successful mothering memoir a la Carrie Bradshaw. I imagined travelling to New York City with my family one week, Chicago with my best friend the next, on publicity tours for said book.
We'd sight see, meet fabulous people, stay in hotels and live the big life. This would be what the rest of my life would look like and one day, I'd be sitting on the bedside tables of every harried mother as a reminder that mothering, when taken with a grain of salt (and a shot of tequila if that's your thing), could actually be enjoyable.
Another week passed. The deadline they'd given me was up, so I contacted them.
Very politely, I informed the person in charge that it'd been x amount of days and I still hadn't heard a thing. I'd been instructed to do this in his email congratulating me on being given the chance to work with them further.
Promptly I received an email from a "reviewer" who said, basically, that she was sorry she hadn't gotten to me yet, but to be patient and her review of my manuscript would be forthcoming.
So I began to dream of New York City and places unknown, shoes unpurchased and Broadway shows yet attended again . . .
This morning I received the review of my manuscript. They liked it, but it did need editing (well, yeah, that's why I sent it to someone who said they were experts in turning manuscripts into successful books). I was free, of course, to chose my own editor, but they'd gladly recommend theirs, whom they knew was reputable and worked fast, for 2 cents per word.
I did the math in my head. "Hmmmmm," I thought, "$75 for editing, doesn't seem too bad to me."
Add another zero to that.
I never claimed to be good at math.
I decided to see if I could polish up my manuscript and I spent all day checking grammar, syntax and spelling. I emailed an author friend and asked her a few questions. I emailed my brother and my parents and asked them what they thought.
I was still envisioning my kids faces on the front of the next best-seller and that feeling of nervous anticipation was only getting worse.
I did a little more digging around and so did the friend I'd contacted. Between the two of us, we discovered that the agency I'd submitted my work to was under attack at a writer's forum. I read thread after thread after thread of discussion and references to this so-called "traditional" publisher. Red flag after red flag was referenced and I began to feel something other than what could be called nervous anticipation. I began to feel sick.
The good news is that I haven't lost anything, other than my time. I did not pay to have the editor they recommended critique my work. I did not pay a fee to have my work reviewed and I am still in contact with the publisher, in the off chance that I will learn more about this business, if anything at all, from my experience.
I know that I usually tell what I think are funny stories about my kids, my husband or my dog, but right now, at this very moment, I need to share this.
I read so many amazing words on these blogs and I can't believe the talent and wit of all of you out there. I am constantly taken aback by your words. The words that you created on your keyboards. The words that you may or may not have needed to edit before hitting "publish" and sharing them with the entire world. They are good words. They are valuable words. Most importantly, they are your words.
I've read a lot lately about how "mommy bloggers" are at each other's throats over the successes of one another or the ad revenue that someone brings in. People, it doesn't matter.
If you love to write, than write.
If you love to share, than share.
If you want to take a chance, do it.
But be aware. Be aware that it isn't all cupcakes and glitter and sparkling white teeth out there. If you want to take your writing to that next level, even if on a whim, be smart about it and try to keep your head out of the clouds.
You never know, with a little work, it could be your book sitting on the bedside tables of mothers far and wide. You could be the next big thing. Stranger things have happened, I mean, Bush did get re-elected.
You could get lucky or you could work your ass off and have nothing to show for it but 37,000 words in a word document.
And that's okay too.
Because if you love what you do, you should do it.
I am going to tuck this icky feeling I have away for now. I am going to fold the last load of laundry, as it is the only productive thing I've done all day, other than feed my kids, and I am going to call it a night. I'll peek in on the boys, kissing the foreheads that are getting older each day. I'll ruffle the dogs fur, even though doing so may cause even more of it to fly around my house. And I'll crawl into my bed, next to the daughter that I placed there hours ago, instead of her own bed - where she should be (it's been a long day for both of us).
And I'll try not to think too much about it tomorrow when I'm scoring baseball.