Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It Only Took One Week (Plus About 20 Years)

The view from The Barngalow.

This is for everyone who writes. Or paints. Or sings. Or cooks, or dances, or builds, or teaches, or searches for cures. Or catches flying objects while leaping in the air.

This is for everyone who has a dream. Or maybe you don't have a dream. Maybe you're just trying to get through a tough time. It's for you, too.

It's for everyone who feels like they can't quite get a break but they can't quite give up, either.

It's for everyone who cares deeply about what they do, who wants their work to somehow find its place in this world.

Keep going. Don't give up. Because the cliché really is true: You never know what might be right around the corner.

I have been writing for years. For decades, even. And last week my agent, the incredible Elisabeth Weed, sent my novel out into the world...

But wait, let me back up a bit. The week before that I sent my son Michael out into the world. He landed in Italy. This is how he looked to me right before we said our good-bye at the airport:

Ciao, Michael. (Appearing somewhat blurry through his mama's misty eyes.)

The next week Elisabeth sent my novel, The Underside of Joy, to her amazing foreign rights agent, Jenny Meyer. I felt a bit like this, getting out of the shower that morning:

On pins and needles. (Photo by Daniel Prince)

But Jenny said wonderful things about the novel. Both she and Elisabeth sent it out. And the first place it landed? The first country to make an offer? Italy. Italy!

God, I love that country.

It was my husband's birthday. I woke Stan up with the news. We had a good cry.

More offers came in from other countries, including the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Israel and Taiwan. There were several auctions. (Sometimes, I admit, I have to recheck my emails to make sure it's really happening.) And then, this past Wednesday, an auction in NYC.

I am thrilled and honored to tell you that my U.S. editor is Denise Roy, and that The Underside of Joy will be published by Dutton in January 2012!

And I am humbled, because I know so many gifted writers who have worked hard and long and still haven't heard the big Yes. I want you to know that I had received nothing but rejections on my other manuscripts. There were a few very close almosts and kind words of encouragement, yet they always preceded one or more of the following: But. Unfortunately. However. Nevertheless. In this difficult market. Didn't quite fall in love. Not for us.

I'll write more later about the long uphill-both-ways icy road that led to this miraculous week, and how Elisabeth became my agent. (It wasn't through contacts. I queried her. We met through the dreaded slush pile.)

But for now I want to tell you about one more crazy thing. The week before all this happened, I'd made reservations to go ziplining through the redwood canopy this past Sunday to surprise Stan for his birthday. We'd never ziplined before. I love the redwoods and they play an important role in my novel. So the day turned out to be a fitting celebration not only of his birthday, but of the whole wild ride we'd found ourselves on.

You want me to do what?
If you've never experienced ziplining, it goes something like this:

1.  Stand on a miniscule platform 300 feet or so from the ground. Try to look casual while gripping tree trunk.

2.  Allow a friendly young stranger to secure your harness, helmet, and shiny metal aparatus.

3.  Allow same stranger to hook you to a cable that extends 800 feet to another tree, still 300 feet from the ground, so you can travel 25 mph suspended from said cable.

4.  Hang on.

5.  Step off miniscule platform into vast sky.

6.  Keep hanging on.

7.  Say, Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

8.  Repeat 7 times.

Happy 50th, Stan!