I don’t want to say that the waiting is the hardest part. I think that would be awfully naive of me. However, it isn’t one of the easy parts. I’m anxious all the time, with some combination of dread and excitement churning beneath my feet like rudders on the boats I watch everyday in the Charleston harbor. It makes me move in all kinds of directions, none I feel like I have any say over. I check my email every half hour, and patrol my social media platforms like a peace-keeping soldier. I look everywhere I can for updates hoping for that whisper I’ve dreamt about. I hope for some sign of success, just of a hint of it from somewhere. Silence.
I went to a writer’s conference in Alabama about a month ago. It was one where Chuck Sambuchino (editor of Writer’s Digest) stands up and tells you all the reasons you can do it, but also how hard it will be, then gives you all kinds of ideas for self-promotion. The Alabama Writer’s Workshop was a good conference. I took a lot away from it, but the two most important things were only about 3 X 2 inches in size.
I got to pitch two amazing literary agents at the very end of the day. I was scared to death. I knew nothing of one of them except that she was the most sought after at the conference, and that I’d have a lot of competition. The other referred to herself as a “dream crusher” during one part of the conference, at which point I narrowly escaped wetting my pants. However, despite my fear…God, guts, and a “go get ’em” from my husband gave me the gumption to walk in there and pitch as hard as I could. I walked away with full manuscript requests from both. I smiled when I took the cards from their hands, adoring the thin slip of paper like Gollum does his precious. What they didn’t witness was when I walked into the hallway, burst into tears, called my husband, and told him I’d hit a homer. It wasn’t as though I was signed on the spot, or my novel is being published tomorrow, but for me… after a 6 hour drive, and the blood, sweat, and tears…that baby soared out of the park.
Now I’ve sent everything to them. It’s been a month, which I know is normal. And it’s killing me. I stand in the stadium alone, the cheers fading, watching my ball sail over the fence. It’s out of sight. That run is over. Now it is time to wait for my next at bat, and God-willing , hit one more. Every night I dream of the second my phone rings, or my inbox has that message I’ve longed for. I channel that moment, meditate on it, and pray for it. I write. I pace. I wait. I walk into to Barnes & Noble and sniff the insides of the pages of the ones I can tell are fresh. I am married to this dream, and I cannot breathe an easy breath until one of the gatekeepers of the world I’m in love with comes knocking at my door.
I know this isn’t the hardest part, but it’s my hardest part today. I know I’m going to see my baby covered in red editor’s ink, and be told to make a million changes. I know I will swallow my pride 973 more times, and kiss the pinky rings of more elders than I can count. I know I will cry. I know I will worry. But bring it on. Bring that to my doorstep, because today I wait. I’m cold in the large shadow of the body I want to join. I’m a gladiator unafraid to take the arena, but scared to death of being on deck forever.
I don’t know how to put this to bed, to have my cheerful happy ending where I realize it’s ok to wait, and that it will never be more exciting than it is now. I have those days, but not today. Today I’m awake, and I’m warmed up. I’m wearing the home team whites, and I am ready. I am at the plate waiting for someone to hurl that curve ball and let me swing like hell one more time. This time, maybe, just maybe if the wind catches the ball just right, I’ll land on the shelf, where I know there is an empty spot drawing me like a moth to light.
But for tonight, no matter the heat in my bat…tonight, I wait. Tonight I will fall asleep on home plate. I am a writer in waiting.