Killer Nashville pretty much jumped out of my computer screen as the perfect place for me, since I was shopping a murder mystery. I signed up to talk to editors and agents, and I sent a couple of short story manuscripts for critique by published authors.
The authors were fabulous. All of the editors and agents were awesome, but one really stood out. She was an author herself, and very well spoken. She liked my work. She invited me to submit.
I went home and panicked.
I went back to the conference in 2012.
I met her again.
She remembered me. She wanted to know why I hadn’t sent it. That right there sent me hyperventilating out of the meeting to clutch the phone and whisper to Scott. Who was on a commuter train, letting the kids experience something cool in Nashville. And who could barely hear me. And who generally was not in a position to say more than, “Wow”.
I got additional feedback from her and from an agent at the conference.
I came home last year knowing that I had to stop sitting on my manuscript and submit it for God’s sake. But I was terrified. I don’t manage my emotions well on a steady day, and if I throw something IMPORTANT into the mix, I spend my weeks strung out like a fucking addict. So between September and January, I edited some more. I changed the ending twice. One change was three days before I sent out the final product. I volunteered madly at the ballet so I wouldn’t think about the manuscript sitting at home waiting for me to let it GO already.
And then one day, I gatheredupmynervesandwroteanemail. But I was a wreck, and so I put out a “HELP” call on facebook, and SAM was online (not MY Sam, the writer SAM!). She proofread, corrected grammar, and helped me polish. And then I put it all together with the appropriate attachment, hit send, and tried to forget it. But I failed. I woke up every day thinking about it, trying and failing to manage my emotions as I hoped and worried.
And then, on Tuesday night, I saw an e-mail from the editor in my inbox. And my stomach sank, because I saw it at 8PM, and it had arrived at 7PM. Which meant that, from her time zone, the editor sent it at 5PM. Who sends out good news at the end of the working day?
Her, it seems.
Because when I stopped hyperventilating and read the thing, she told me she wanted to begin the acquisitions process.
(Which takes 4 to 5 months, so the next wait is longer, but less stressful. I don’t have to hope. I know.) That was when I rebooted the computer twice. I was getting ready to put the kids to bed. Sam, seeing that I had stopped doing so, went back to playing Lego Batman. Caroline, seeing that I had stopped talking and started flapping, asked “Mom, are you having trouble with your Asperger’s?” since that’s what I ask her when the words go away and the arms get urgent. (Note – I do not have Asperger’s, but damn I knew exactly how she felt at those urgent, voiceless times right then.) I kept saying “The book, the book!” And so she brought me books. An entire random stack of them.
I texted a couple of friends, realized I was not texting actual words any more than I was speaking them, and that I would probably cause upset and panic if I didn’t calm down. Scott was at work. I called him. I handed the phone to Caroline and told her to tell Daddy about her day. She was chosen to participate in an art project with the upper school kids, which was SO cool, and she had come home from school bubbling about it. But she forgot until I reminded her, which finally unlocked my voice.
It still took four tries to tell Scott when I got the phone back. And then I called my Mom and Kaylee. And it took another couple of tries to tell them. By the time I got to Dad, I was at least speaking English as a first language again, and the e-mail was still there, and nothing I’d done had made it go away.
I told a very few people over the course of the week, and I kept minute to minute track of my days. If there were ever gaps in my memory or the list, I’d know I was dreaming. I have vivid, lucid dreams, and there are six hundred ways I check to see if I’m dreaming in extreme circumstances.
By Friday, when the e-mail was still there, and I’d run out of lines for tracking micronutia, I realized I should say something on the blog. But everything I typed felt wrong. It took at least 33 ties to come up with 33 words for Trifecta.
So that’s my story.
And I have no conclusion.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.