“Easter is very important to me. It’s a second chance.”—Reba McEntire
I was doing my weekly shopping trek through the neighborhood yesterday when I spotted a cat in a local real estate office taking in the afternoon sun.
This feline was really loving the rays. He—or she--sat on the other side of a glass door in the sphinx position with his eyes closed and his mind completely focused on savoring this bright spring day like it was a boatload of fresh tuna.
Now there’s someone who really appreciates the little things in life, I thought as I lugged my groceries down Fifth Avenue.
Today is Easter Sunday, a day when we should appreciate all the beautiful things in life both big and small. I’ve been in something of a funk for the last week so this is a good time to renew and reclaim everything I hold dear.
I felt like I was in a rut with my writing and I got so low that I seriously thought about ditching the whole fiction writing fantasy.
Given my age and lack of success thus far I was having a hard time convincing myself that it was worth the effort to writing anything outside of a shopping list. What’s the point of all this work when I’ve got so little to show for it?
Then I remembered that the last time I was in this treacherous state of mind I had written a commandment to myself in my journal: You have not earned the right to quit!
To be honest, I’ve never done the starving artist routine. I’ve never lived in a hovel while working on my masterpiece, never sacrificed whole sections of my life the way some artists and writers have done over the centuries. I’ve always had one foot safely placed in the workday world while I toiled away at my craft in my free time.
If I’m going to surrender my dreams so easily, I probably have no business dreaming in the first place.
Action is the best way to beat a bad attitude, so I searched online for small publishing houses that might be interested in new talent.
I found an outfit in California that was—glory hallelujah!-- accepting manuscripts from writers without agents.
Perfect, I thought, I’ll shoot them an email.
But there was one problem. These people actually want prospective authors to snail mail a hard copy of their manuscript out to the left coast. Funny, I could’ve sworn the 19th Century was over…
Sign, Sealed, Delivered
I haven’t mailed out my work in years and I dreaded the dreary process of printing out labels and letters and hauling the thing down to the post office where I’d stand in line—as opposed to being online—and then wrestle with some allegedly civil servant about how I should send my package.
Fortunately I had a print-out of the manuscript from a previous sale attempt that had gone nowhere and I decided to apply myself to getting the damn thing together.
This turned out to be a swift pain in the hindquarters. I’m computer hopeless, so I had to put my printer in a headlock before I got all the necessary materials ready to go. But I did it.
I can’t afford to blow a week day afternoon at the post office, so I went to a local UPS store on Saturday and entrusted my work to a delightful young saleswoman behind the counter.
She found the perfect-sized box and when I placed my massive manuscript inside the cardboard accommodations her eyes widened in astonishment.
“You wrote a book?” she asked excitedly.
“Why, yes,” I responded, as if I knocked out novels every week. “It’s a crime novel. I’m from Brooklyn and I’m half-Italian so I guess that’s no surprise. Wish me luck.”
We chatted some more and then I paid my bill, thanked the young lady for her help, and made for the door. I was just about to step out into the world when she called out to me.
Oh, my goodness, the two words were enough to lift me straight up into the air. And it felt gratifying to do something about my situation instead of just complaining all the time.
I know the odds of getting published or produced are stacked decidedly against me and that there’s a very good chance this company in California will politely tell me to use my manuscript for a doorstop. There’s nothing I can do about that.
All I can do is keep writing, sending stuff out, and praying that someone out there will finally say yes.
The only time you earn the right to quit is when you quit breathing.
I worked out onto the street with a renewed sense of purpose. I had my confidence back and I felt happier than a cat sitting in the sun.