About a month ago, I stood in my kitchen with dearest friend and literary super-agent extraordinaire, Gordon Warnock, drinking beers, washing dishes, and shootin’ the shit the way we do. While we cooked a simple dinner seasoned with goodies from my mid-summer garden, we had an honest, realistic conversation about the state of my memoir, which Gordon had been dutifully and tirelessly pitching to publishers for two years to no avail; we’d had no offers on the book in all that time, though I’d managed to set an agency record for the number of publishers who wanted, but then ultimately passed on the manuscript. It was time to face reality, and I knew it.
Long since had passed those dreams of having my booked picked up a mega-house like Harper Collins or Simon & Schuster, earning seven-figure advances, and making the New York bestseller list (hey–a girl can dream). Though I never stopped believing in the value of the story, I was prepared to face the possibility of not seeing my life’s dream accomplished—at least not this round. Gordon and I once again promised each other to keep doing what we could to promote the book, for a little while longer at least, and then went back to our halibut, beers, and Jeopardy.
Over the next few days, I indulged in some serious existential crisis-ing, allowing myself to question my place in the writing world, doubt the quality of my writing, and generally feel thoroughly, pitifully sorry for myself. But after a few days of this nonsense, I snapped out of it and remembered something important. I remembered that I love writing (warts and all, almost 100% of the time) and that just because my memoir wouldn’t be my debut book, didn’t mean it wouldn’t still happen for me some day, somehow.
Most writers have at least one book in the drawer before getting a book deal, and I was certainly prepared to have a shitty manuscript (or several) rendered unusable and tossed aside during my career, but I just didn’t want it to be this book sitting in the darkness of that proverbial failure drawer. The story of this book—my family’s story—is an important one to tell, and I’ve built my life around it; seeing it fail inevitably rattled my sense of self-worth.
Still, I love being a writer, and if continuing on this path meant letting go of my memoir, at least for the time being, I was willing to do it. On my way home from work that Friday evening, I decided that I would do my best to let it go, place it longingly in that drawer, and hope I’d be able to get it out to the world at some later, more established point in my career. God willing.
But later that day, that very same day, I got an offer on my book. Gordon called, I cried, and suddenly the whole world turned upside down in the most delicious way. Just like that. I blew out the candles on my 30th birthday cake knowing that I’d done it—I was going to be a published author, straight-up legit and for realz. And then another offer came in, and for a glorious moment in time, there were several publishers fight over my work. I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a good home in Skyhorse Publishing, and can’t wait to represent their name in the world.
So today, my dear friends and family and readers and colleagues and internet folk, I am so thrilled and proud to shout from the digital rooftops that A Real Emotional Girl will be published in the Fall of 2012, made possible by Julie Matysik at Skyhorse Press. My book, at long last, will exist! In hardcover, no less…
When people ask me how one might accomplish the daunting task of writing a book, I have an immediate and definitive answer: The one thing I know for sure is that you don’t do it alone. This book has taken me 10 years to write and publish, and in that time I’ve been lucky to have the support and guidance of so many brilliant, wonderful people. I suppose I’ll be writing a formal acknowledgements and dedication page for my book soon, but I’ll go ahead and take a practice run at stating my gratitude here, just to make sure that it sticks good and proper:
My father is at the center of this book in a lot of ways, and all of this has been for him. Of course his story is what drives the entire manuscript, but he is also responsible for the creation of the book itself. The whole damn thing was his idea, and his faith in my writing was the sole reason I continued putting pen to paper even when I hated it. My mom and my brothers, who have stood with me through this new life without Dad, will never know the extent to which I value them and love them—words cannot do such love the justice it deserves. Thank you, the three of you, for helping me share our story.
To Kelly, my writing partner and literary soul mate, thank you for talking me down off all kinds of ledges during teary late-night phone calls, laughing with me during sleep-deprived, delirious brainstorm sessions, and walking with me as we take over the world, one page at a time.
Thank you Gordon and Andrea for keeping the faith and pounding the pavement. I couldn’t ask for better agents, and I definitely couldn’t ask for better friends. Thank you to Julie, my editor, for taking a chance on a newbie writer with almost too much fire inside her to bear.
And to you, my friends and family, my teachers and students and readers, my peeps. Thank you all for the support and encouragement you’ve blessed me with, and for being the voice on the other end of the line. Imagining the moment about a year from now, when I hold that book in my hands and page through, it will be you who I think of and silently thank. You brought me here, kept me going, pushed me to write every time I knew I ought to. Thank you for that–it has totally, totally paid off.
And. Here. We. Go.