by Donna Hatch
Authors often talk about when they got “the call”, meaning the phone call either from an agent or directly from the editor that says “I’d like to offer you a contract on your book.”
Like me, these authors had spent years writing, attending workshops and conferences, reading, re-writing, editing, submitting to contests and critique partners, and then starting the process all over again until finally they get the nerve to submit to agents and editors, only to be rejected until they had enough rejection letters to wallpaper a small room. Then when the call came, they would speak of how they’d squealed, or tried to sound professional when they only wanted to scream in joy. They would try to relay the sweet euphoria of learning that someone thinks their passion is a true, marketable skill.
I had tasted a bit of that exhilaration each time I won a writing contest and looked forward to the day I’d get my own call. I wondered if I’d scream and jump up and down, or try to behave with dignity, and I hoped my time would come soon.
I have often discovered that the magical moments in life that others speak of never seem to happen that way for me. The marriage proposal certainly wasn’t the kind that I’d always anticipated. It was completely unexpected and made in a very casual, off-handed way. In fact, it was so casual that I thought for certain that he was kidding. He wasn’t.
Other major events in my life seemed to happen in much the same way. The call was just another of them. My call wasn’t a call, it was an e-mail. And I had just had minor surgery on that Monday, and had a more difficult recovery than I’d anticipated. By Friday night, I hadn’t even turned on my computer. My husband brought my laptop to my bed and asked if I wanted to check my e-mail, probably in an attempt to cheer me.
Almost lost among the over 100 e-mail messages for me, was the one from two days prior from the editor of a smaller press I’d submitted to. She said she’d like to offer me a contract on my book if I’d be willing to make two minor changes, one of which I’d already made in recent revisions.
I stared, re-read it, and then told my husband that they wanted to offer me a contract. He blinked and asked what that meant, thinking that I’d merely won another contest or something. It took some doing to convince him that I had basically sold my first book. I’m sure if I had been more excited about it, he would have caught on sooner. The times I’d won writing contests, I’d squealed and jumped up and down until I’d managed to frighten my teenagers. But instead, I lay there quietly, bleary-eyed, and told him in an uncharacteristically subdued voice that I was about to join the ranks of the published authors.
After 19 years, I realized that even though the marriage proposal was something of a disappointment, the man who made it certainly was not. Neither has life with him been. I am equally certain that my writing career will be satisfying despite its rather quiet entrance into my life.
The working title of my first published book is The Stranger She Married and the publisher is ImaJinn Books, (pronounced Imagine books). We will officially go to contract once I finish my revisions and they are approved. I will update as soon as I know more.
The best things in life may not always have the grandest entrances. I hope writing as a career is one of them.