Friday, September 10, 2010

My Writing Journey: THE CALL

For those who are interested in what happens once you're contracted to publish a book, I'm going to do my best to compose a series of posts about my particular experiences.

And of course, the first, and most memorable, would be . . .


(The following is reposted from Just for this Season)

Every writer dreams about the moment they get the phone call offering to buy the manuscript. If you’re like me, (on days when I allowed myself to optimistically dream) I practiced what I would say when the moment came. How unflappable and cool I would be. I’d think about it to the point of polishing my acceptance speech, ready to dazzle the editor with my calm and lack of I-just-sold-my-first-book hysteria.

Which is exactly how it played out in real life.

With a few, minor exceptions.

I was at work. The phone rang. I recognized the area code as being the same as the publishing house’s. I calmly answered the phone. Accepted their offer. And resumed work without so much as one ruffled feather.

Right. The first part’s true, up to the point where I realized it was New York calling. Then, I immediately started crying. A lot. So much so that my coworker was looking at me like I’d just gotten word my dog had died.

I managed to garble through my tears that I thought (
didn’t know for sure, because I still hadn’t answered the phone) my editor was calling. I then explained that editors rarely call unless they are offering to buy. I’m not entirely sure, but I think she might have started crying then too.

At some point, I started thinking I was hyperventilating. My work buddy was trying to get me to answer the phone, but I was too busy making “I can’t breathe” motions.

I finally caught my breath.

The editor had left a message.

Editor on my voicemail: “Hey Mandy, this is
xxxxx at Steeple Hill, just wanted to call and tell you I have some good news. Call me back.”

I hung up. And cried some more.

At this point, I’d managed to draw quite a bit of attention, and my coworkers started coming up to make sure I
wasn’t having some kind of psychotic episode (although why they’d imagine that of me, I’m not sure). Once they realized what was going on, everyone yelled at me to call her back. My boss ran to the bathroom and then shoved a bunch of tissues at me so I could “dry up and call!”

I did. And I had several witnesses who had front row seats to how incredibly dumb I can be on the phone. And I do mean incredibly dumb. I basically had to tell the editor I was freaking out too badly to have a coherent conversation with her. To my editor’s credit, this request
didn’t seem to surprise her. She was very gracious and understanding. Or perhaps she could already tell from our previous correspondence that I’m—at times—an idiot.

Afterwards, I was so excited, flustered, in shock, etc., I had to leave for the day.

So, it’s safe to say, nothing I’d planned for “the call,” went the way I’d rehearsed. The moment that defined my writing career (because I’m fairly sure nothing will ever be as exciting as that first call) is encapsulated by tears, laughing, and near hyperventilation . . . all common signs of a nervous breakdown.

But that’s okay. I don’t want my journey to be ordinary, or even calm and collected. I want it to be interesting, inspiring, and uplifting. And maybe just a little tear-jerking.

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