It’s been years, so many many years. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. Writing. I find however, that I’m not tired, but instead, I am thankful. I’m thankful that a high school drop-out started teaching me to read some 27 years ago when I was in her kitchen instead of pre-school. I rejoice when I look back at a first-grade report card that in the notes says, “I think Lorna is an author.” I smile when I think back to my first staple bound book I wrote during free time in third grade…the one my friend illustrated because I hated to draw. I’m thankful for the seeds that planted the passion that’s taken so long to grow.
I can’t help but grin when I fast-forward to the middle school and high school years when my best friends jokingly tease me for using big words, and enjoying vocabulary tests. I can still remember coming home after ballgames to trade out my cheerleading skirt for a pen and spiral notebook with stickers on it. I remember the hundreds of poems written in secret, and fragments of green novels that inspired better ones to come. I remember characters that I still know today first showing up. I remember deciding I’d be a writer when I grew up, but having no clue what that would mean.
I now reflect on the past 12 years since I graduated high school. I think of the chicken-scratch ink in the back of my yearbook where friends left best wishes, and said they knew I’d publish one day. They have no idea how much that small belief challenged me…gave me something to prove. I had to make it happen. I’d promised.
I remember the poetry class I loved at UNCA, and the hellish math class I almost failed because all I did was write during the lecture. I think of the environmental science course that drove me to walking out one day and never coming back. It was the one that made me feel like I was wasting my time doing anything but writing. I don’t know if I was brave or foolish that day, but I followed my heart. I had a stronger lover tugging at me.
I think of the sweat and bits of soul that went into writing 3 novels. I am seeing the mountains of no thank yous, keep lookings, and just plain forget its I’ve gotten. I can still taste the salt from the tears I cried in the dark hours of the night when agents I thought were THE ONE, turned out to be another rejection.
Mixed into all those years was also life…my parents’ marriage falling apart, new families forming, getting my heart broken, falling in love, trial and error….growing up.
And then, out of the blue, on a sunny summer day in 2016, with my twenties freshly out of reach, I’m on my couch in my pajamas eating a raw food bar…and it happens. I open the email from a publishing company I’d pitched to find out I’m one of the handful of offers they’re making this year. They call my novel “a true gem,” and send me a contract that states they want to edit my novel, market it, put it in print and e-book, and pay me to do what I love. In black ink and legal jargon, what they did was offer me my dream.
It was different than I thought. The Earth didn’t quake, and the moon didn’t eclipse the sun. I didn’t turn to stone, or spontaneously combust. I did cry…sob, actually. But man, was that moment as sweet as I’d hoped. And without the passing of time, all of the almosts, and the many rejections…it would not have tasted like the perfect nectar it was when it finally hit my tongue. So tonight, among others, I thank the opposition. I extend gratitude not to those who stood by me (yours is coming big), but to those who did not. I thank the agents who said no, the publishers that said pass, and the time that seemed to creep by like a snail during the moments I wanted success the most. I thank the opposition because through the pain, you made the relief a million times sweeter. Had I not trudged through mud, slid over asphalt on my knees, and begged for water in the desert, it wouldn’t have felt so good. My moment was perfect, and I’ll never forget that fleeting instance that everything built up to when someone said, “Yes. Yes, Lorna. We want you, Author.”