Unpublished writers dream of The Call (always with capital letters). That's the happy day when an editor tells you she wants to buy your book, and you are magically transformed from writer to Author (I always capitalized that one in my mind, too). I dreamed of The Call for years. I'd even rehearsed exactly what I was going to say to Mr. Fraser when I called him to tell him the news.
A year ago today, as I was walking back to my office after lunch, I remember thinking about my current submissions, and how some of them were approaching the editor or agent's usual response time. I decided I was OK with not getting The Call that day, because it felt a little weird to have such a major, life-changing event on April Fool's Day. Also, I was recovering from laryngitis and could still barely talk, so I would just as soon not have to deal with any calls, mundane or momentous.
Less than an hour later, I noticed I had a new message in my Gmail folder, so I got to a stopping place in my work and checked to see what it was, expecting a note from my husband or something from one of my writing email loops. To my absolute amazement, it was from Angela James at Carina offering to publish The Sergeant's Lady. She even apologized for sending The Email instead of giving me The Call--she was home with a sick kid whose coughing made phone conversations difficult.
I was thrilled and amazed. I'd been submitting manuscripts for years and was beginning to believe for the rest of my life I'd follow the same ritual of sending out queries and getting rejected. Now someone wanted to buy my manuscript?! That really happens?!
But I didn't act out that script I'd spent years envisioning. I couldn't scream for joy, because laryngitis, and also because I'd recently started working in a cube farm. I couldn't CALL my husband--again, the laryngitis--so I opened chat windows with him and one of my critique partners to squee and boggle. I just looked up the chat transcripts (I love how Gmail makes it easy to save EVERYTHING), and I have to share the opening of the conversation with my CP:
OMG OMG OMG!
me: Carina Press wants to buy TSL!
S: OMG OMG
me: bounce bounce bounce bounce
Good thing I'm more articulate in my books, huh?
A year later, I'm happy to be where I am. Like other big life events in my experience, getting published changes everything and yet changes nothing--it doesn't (usually) solve your old problems, and you still have all your old blessings, but there's a new layer of joys and challenges. And nothing, but nothing, beats people other than your critique partners and family reading and loving your work, whether it's that first editor who wants to buy it or a reader who sends you fan mail once it's out.