Let me add my congratulations to the stars and successes of Cynthia Levinson’s WE’VE GOT A JOB! Also, congratulations to Jim Hill, winner of last week’s drawing, and Heidi Grange, winner of last week’s quiz, who both won a signed copy of the book!
I’ve been thinking about Jeannie’s post all week. About the significance of what we do. As artists setting our stride against headwind of rejection. As writers, laying our souls bare in our work.
Actually, I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time.
You see, WATER may be my debut, but it is not my first book. Like many authors, I took a few cracks at it before I got it right. I heard that pesky statistic—the one that says we’re more likely to be struck by lightning than published. But I kept at it anyway. For years.
Because I had something to say. Many somethings; important somethings. But truly, truly, I am so grateful that those early stories stayed in their dusty drawer, that my skills and taste had time to catch up with my dreams.
The wonderful news is that WATER found its way to just the right agent and just the right editor. Here’s the story of how my dream became a deal:
- January, 2011: I won an award at VCFA that sent the first 20 pages of my middle grade novel onto an editor’s desk at Harcourt Children’s Books. But I was still in school. I couldn’t spend too much time daydreaming…
- May: I heard back with a request for the full manuscript. I sent it in, trying to convince my high hopes to come just a little closer to the ground.
- June: I received an official-looking envelope in the mail. It was a three page editorial letter on fancy cream paper, with the peppy blue HMH dolphin in the corner and some very thoughtful, constructive, and kind words from an editor named Reka.
So I added and I tweaked and I tightened. I sent the revision to some trusted (and brilliant) first readers, and then I dug in again. When I couldn’t bear to look at the pages for one more second, I took a deep breath, and hit send.
- December: An email appeared in my inbox. Reka loved my revisions. She loved the story. Relief. Affirmation. Joy. Hope.
- A little later in December: Early morning phone call with Joan. She loved it too. And she wants to work with me through a long and varied career. Halfway through my happy dance, a kind soul reminded me that though I had a savvy literary agent in my corner, I didn’t actually have a contract. Right. Stop dreaming up cover designs. Pause the parade of stars floating across my vision.
- January, 2012: THE CALL came while I was at work, so naturally, I stepped into the supply closet. Joan says, “We have an offer!”
- A few weeks later: Finally, after a year of intermittent letters and emails, Reka and I spoke on the phone. Listening to her talk about all the wonderful things she envisioned for WATER, it finally sunk in. This was really happening. For my story. It was just about the best feeling in the world.