The Informal Book Contract and Associated Emotions

I was ready for a flood of emotions when I was offered a book contract, because it’s a dream come true– a dream I’ve fought for, fought against, and then fought for harder than ever. Brandi Carlile’s Turpentine lyrics were my mental soundtrack more than a few days after I got the big news.

“And memories like spies/ And salt betrays my eyes again”

The memories came rapid-fire, like a movie on fast-forward:

I’m sitting in class listening to a beloved professor talk about the latest New Yorker articles. I’m at my desk at midnight as a full-time journalist, wondering if we’ll ever get the paper to press, watching the rest of the young world party at the bar across from my office. I’m drinking soda and talking about life in the college snack bar with my friend Beverly after our shift ends, and then I blink and she’s dead for a stupid reason. I’m throwing the softball with my granddad and then he’s gone and it’s twenty-something years later and all I have of him beyond photographs is a worn-out softball and his pack of poker cards. I’m in New York City on my 25th birthday, meeting an editor, leaving her office on a high I’d never felt, coming home to Georgia and a personal life on a low I’d never felt.

It’s a never-ending bombardment of images so clear I can feel them, and I wasn’t ready for all this to come back so crisply. As the initial shock wears off, I realize they’re just puzzle pieces, chunks of my history that brought me to this point that will one day just be a puzzle piece even though at this moment, everything about now feels huge.

The list goes on and on, and most memories end with this sentiment: “I miss…” I break the funk by looking over at my new puppy, another hunting hound mix rescued from another crappy county shelter. Roo is too new to the world to understand much beyond wanting to either eat everything or play with everything or both.

“I have a book contract,” I say to Roo and she turns her head a little and stares at me, then picks up my shoe in her mouth and sprints across the house.

The Acquisitions Manager emailed me yesterday to informally offer me a book contract, and of course I said yes. He said the formal contract will arrive by mail in the coming days. I felt a confounding mix of five emotions—elation, relief, excitement, hope, and sadness. The sadness stemmed from the friends and family I won’t be able to tell about my news because they aren’t alive anymore. I can’t help but wonder what my granddad would say if he knew I got a contract, and I can’t help but think of the signing events that will always be missing some of my favorite people in the audience.

I wonder if this flood of emotions is “normal” for a new author. But I also don’t really care, because apparently it’s normal for me, and I’m not out to make mountains out of sand piles. Just here to enjoy the ride as much as possible. Truly, I’m absolutely over the moon to make the transition from published writer to published author. This is what matters to me right now, and maybe one day it will just be a puzzle piece on the way to a different destination, but for now, I’m reveling in the process—although I wouldn’t mind having a do-over on 24.

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