When I was pregnant with my first daughter Kate, I refused to register for baby things until I absolutely had to. I waited until I had a baby shower coming up, when I knew friends and family would want to buy us things we needed. I’m not sure I ever said it out loud to anyone, but I couldn’t allow myself to get too excited. Not when I felt things were still so not-guaranteed. So much could still go wrong—you heard sad stories every day of mamas losing babies, miscarriages, stillbirths, etc. I didn’t even write the due date on my calendar. At all. I couldn’t stomach the thought of turning to the November page and seeing “Kate’s due date!” staring up at me all covered in hearts and stars if in fact something bad had happened and she didn’t make it to her due date. Instead, I wrote it in after she was born.
I can see how this hesitation to allow myself to feel excitement could look like pessimism or “the sky is falling” or a glass-half-empty outlook on life. I don’t think that’s it though. Much of this hesitation was likely due to the fact that we went through a couple of years of fertility *stuff* before getting pregnant with Kate. There were oodles of disappointments, and through that process, I learned to temper my excitement. It hurt to get my hopes up and allow myself to start thinking pink and blue thoughts, then have it turn out just like the month before. I found it was easier to expect the worst, then if the worst didn’t happen, it’d be that much better.
Now, before you think I missed out on all the excitement of the birth of my first child, rest assured, I didn’t. There was plenty of excitement, laughter, and happy tears before she was born, at the hospital, and after we got home. But there was something about having physical things—written or tangible—associated with her before she actually came that made me quiver with nervousness.
I have a similar feeling these days about my book and the possibility of its publication. It’s why I’ve waited a couple weeks before even attempting to write this “I Have an Agent!” post, and why it still may be weeks before I actually hit “post”: I’m afraid to get too excited about the possibility because I know things in publishing fall apart all the time.
I know, I know, usually it would be too early to worry about anything falling apart when nothing has actually happened to fall apart. Usually, when an author signs with an agent, the agent starts from scratch sending out letters and proposals to editors. My story is a tad different in that there was already an interested publisher (can’t say who) before I signed with the agent (Karen Solem of Spencerhill Associates!) I was able to send my query to Karen with the subject line: *editor interest*, and she got back with me within a couple of days instead of my query getting warm and cozy in the slush pile as usual. I queried her in particular because I saw that she was the agent of another book similar to mine, and when I looked her up, her agency website said she was looking for the exact kind of story I had. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t found her and queried her earlier. She offered to represent my book pretty much right away, and since then, I’ve been mystified as to everyone’s interest in the book and me as an author!
Now, it’s not that I don’t think my book is good or worthy of anyone’s attention, because I do. I love the story, the characters, and the setting. It’s the kind of book I’d like to read, filled with sights and sounds and voices I’d love to sink into. I’m thrilled my agent believes in this story and me, and that the publisher in question does too. It’s just that a big part of me is sitting here waiting for the bad news (or the shoe to drop, the sky to fall, or however you want to say it!). Maybe the interested publisher backs out and no other publishers are interested. Maybe Karen says she can’t sell the book and for me to just work hard on book #2 and we’ll hope for that one. Honestly, I’ve prepared myself for all these eventualities. Not because I’m expecting them to happen, but as I said earlier, it’s easier for me to prepare for them, then enjoy the surprise and fun if they don’t happen. Even if something bigger than I can imagine happens. Because, despite all the doom and gloom I’ve set up here, I do believe big, exciting, wonderful, hopeful things can happen—even to me!