Today Changes Everything or Nothing At All

I am hesitant to project this outwardly on you all…deeply nervous…but excited; so excited I could scream and dance and cry.

I received my first request, from an agent, for a full MS read.  It took the agent an entire 5 minutes to e-mail me back.  5 minutes and a full…pick me up off the floor, please.

But, this post isn’t about that pre say, because–I as I titled this–it could change nothing at all and I don’t want to get ahead of myself with ambition.  But the emotions…whoa…they deserve a post all of their own.

The first time an agent told me “thanks, but no thanks” that was hard–not bone crushing–but hard.  Hard to read, hard to understand, hard to figure out what I said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do wrong–I’d obviously done something, but what?  And instead of wallowing in the despair of rejection, I learned from it.  I tightened up my query–did my homework, read blog postings and articles and practiced, practiced, practiced.  So, to read now that I’ve somehow managed to be enough for a full MS read…it’s hopeful, and surprisingly, just has a hard.

When I queried, I sent out a lot.  I felt like the door to door sales woman peddling my wears to busy housewives–some ignored me, some slammed the door, others were kind enough to say “thank you, but I’ll pass”.  I was never discouraging.  I’d simply highlight their name of my ever-growing list and move forward.  Now…now I’ve been invited inside.  I have the chance, a real honest-to-God chance, to sell this book.  And there is so much fear and doubt and anxiety that hangs on this small, significant chance.

If this agent says no– she very well may say just that–it’s only about my book.  It won’t be about my lack luster sum-it-up skills.  It won’t be because I didn’t query the right agent.  All of those excuses will be dashed, tired and worn thing–the only thing that remains hinged together and halting the flow will be…my book.

Scary right?  Damn, scary.

Want to know what I did?  I sent out the full MS.  I did so with shaky fingers and so much doubt.  I let go and let God–cliché right?  But what choice did I have?  None.  She wanted it and this is what I do…I write, and I battle self uncertainty–one keystroke at a time.  But really…it was really, really hard.  As I turned the book into a Word.doc, I wished I’d done a hundred things differently.  Wished I’d had an earlier date with an editor.  Wished I had the time go over the book one last time.  Wish, wish, wish, send….

…Then…

I turned my mind off.  Totally and completely.  I grabbed my little white Chihuahua, turned on a rerun of Ghost Whisperer and took a nap.  A short nap, but it was luxury.  I rested and tuned out my inner monologue for a solid hour.

I don’t know if anything will come from this–maybe everything changes, or maybe nothing at all (I kept convincing myself of the latter, so if or when it comes to that I won’t be ruined for days).  Either way, it’s another place this journey was meant to go, and that…is definitely worth celebrating.

A Small Truth

I’m going to make a confession to you all…right here and right now.  It’s something I’ve battled with, but I don’t believe I’m alone in it, so I’ll share.

Okay–willful deep breath–

My small truth is this: I can count on one hand (plus one finger) how many real life people know I wrote a book.

That’s right, six people.  My parents, my husband, my husband’s parents and my sister.  That’s it.  Those people are the small klatch that make up my literary debut.  And believe me, I’ve sworn them all to secrecy…threatened them, truthfully, begged them to keep my secret–warned them that this book is top shelf secret stuff until it’s published.

Why?  Why blog about something and put it out to virtual strangers and not tell the people who swarm my life with good wishes and love in the realm of real?

It’s simple.  It boils down to accountability of a dream.  And the way it sounds to say, I’m an author to someone who has known me as everything but that–all seven shades of silliness.

THE MILESTONE TAPES started so small–I mean really, really teeny tiny.  Only my husband knew.  Of course he knew, I’d disappear for hours upon hours and end up with hyper-sensetive finger tips.  But that was it.   I knew I could give it up at any time and no one would ever be the wiser.  I wouldn’t be bombard with questions like why and no one would be forced think things like I knew it.  I wouldn’t have to skirt their inquires with watered down excuses like a 50 hour work week and running a home.

The fact of the matter is this, I’m not a college graduate.  I’m probably the last person anyone would ever expect to write a book.  I’m not a grammar wizard or a punctuation savant.  I write like I talk.  I don’t have a background in beautiful phrasing–and shit, I hardly know what the purpose of semi-colon is.  I feel like, sometimes, I’m the literary equivalent of the girl that calls in on the infomerical and orders the “at-home-art-class-kit” –you know, the one where you have to trace the clown or rabbit and send it back, and then they tell you if you’ve got the chops for the big time.

So for anyone but my husband to know, it felt like I’d have to admit: I’m chasing a crazy dream and I’m super under prepared for it.

When the book grew, and I hit 20k words, I told my parents.  They were thrilled–tossing around words like “gift” and “destiny“…and that felt a lot like accountability.  My mom gushed to my sister, who raised her eyebrows–and that was a serious reality check.  The thing I’d been outrunning, the do you really think you can do this look.  It’s a loaded moment, to see what you fear in someone else’s eyes.  It hurts and it’s riddled with spikes of self doubt.  Because really, can I?  What makes me think I can write a 400 page novel and ask someone to buy it?  Who do I think I am?

So I made the decision–until it’s done, sign, sealed and delivered…I will tell no one, and everyone who knows will tell no one under penalty of death (okay, not a literal death, but a good bout of the silent treatment–which can be, might I add, can be lethal).  I made the choice to play all of this close to chest, keep it as a guarded secret, near and dear.

It seems like a reasonable question to wonder why, if I kept so mum, I’d be so open here.  Well, this is what I wanted–what I always wanted.  The connection, the freedom and liberation of joy and fear.  Blogging with you all, it’s given me the chance to just talk…to say the craziest things and be heard.  Because the way it is, you’ve all been my allies.  You’ve all entertained my wildest dream and indulged it by not only visiting, but reading and signing up for subscriptions.  It’s been the best of best, the biggest cherry on top of this sundae, and I squeal with joy over every comment.  You all are the light in the dark places of this adventure.  You all are the courage I need to take myself seriously–and that’s pretty serious.

And that’s been wonderful.  It’s given me wings to fly around and explore what it means to be a writer.  I’ve started this blog, I’ve joined a forum, I’ve been able to embrace my moniker and figure out my path and make my way.  But, we’re getting close to truth-telling-time.  Eventually, within the coming months, I’ll have to start owning the fact that–yes, I wrote a book and yes, it’s published, so yes, I’m an author.

So, how do you do that?  How do you cast aside self doubt and just make the bold statements that let everyone in?  It seems so simple and feels so impossible–all in the exact same moment.

It appears to be a delicate balance…so I have question for all of you…how did you do it?  How did you drop the curtain and come out with?