Friday, May 22, 2015

Dreams May Come

Last week I received an email that simply read,

Dear Mr. Blaylock,

Thank you for your submission. Our acquisitions editors loved your story, and it is in the final stages of our review process to be considered for publication. We will have our decision in the next day or two.

Thank you,

Cedar Fort, Inc. | Fiction Department

My heart leapt in my chest.  I read it over and over again.  Seriously, I’ve committed it to memory.  I immediately called my wife and read it to her.  She asked, “What does it mean?”

I didn’t know how to answer.  Six months ago I finished my first novel.  With that huge check mark off the old bucket list, I looked to publish it.  I sent several query letters to literary agents but was ultimately met with disappointment.  One Friday night, on a date with my wife, we went to Seagull Book (that’s right, we know how to live it up) and looked at the various publishers.  I visited their websites and submitted my entire manuscript, not just a synopsis, to Cedar Fort.  With great trepidation I clicked submit as was the first time, in its entirety, my work had left my possession.  Realizing the situation was beyond my control I started my next project and, in an effort to improve my writing, even entered a short story competition.  The plan was to take a break from my novel and circle back with fresh eyes later this year.  Flash forward to last week and the email above.

What did it mean?  I tried to analyze (or over-analyze to be more accurate) every detail.  I noticed the “Dear Mr. Blaylock” was in a different font than the rest of the text and feared that suggested it was a form letter.  But it said they loved my story, that’s not form letter language, that’s personal and positive. 

“…the final stages of our review process.”  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!  What is the process?  I pictured a dark tribunal surrounding a well-lit table where my manuscript lay; a cloaked figure looming over it with a Caesar-like thumbs up or thumbs down to decide its fate. 

“…considered for publication”, my heart’s desire.   All I could ask was to be considered.  Just to know that my story had been considered was thrilling.

“We will have our decision in the next day or two.”  A day or two?!  The agony, the anxiety, the horror.  Why send this email just to imbue the reader with false hope?  Surely this email was a good sign, a formality or matter of due course.  You don’t know that, and don’t call me Shirley.

Throughout the restless night that followed the cloaked figure haunted my consciousness.  I worried for my little manuscript and did not dare to dream of what might be.  Mercifully, I was rescued from a second night of tossing and turning when I received an email the following morning.

Hi, Aaron!

Thank you for submitting The Land of Look Behind to us. You had me on the edge of my seat the entire time…I think we have the perfect market for this story. We would like to publish your book! Congratulations! 

Cedar Fort, Inc. | Fiction Acquisition Editor

My entire body trembled as I shakenly dialed the phone.  My wife answered and I began to read to her without even a hello.  She failed to choke back the tears and in a trembling voice said “You did it.”

The only person on earth who could truly appreciate what this means to me is my wife.  It was fifteen years ago that I conceived the idea for this story.  Camping by myself in the mountains, I had gone to pray and consider a possible future that I hoped would involve her.  I took a notebook with me and began to write the framework for a story that had been swirling around in my head.  Neither my story nor my love life came about exactly as I imagined but as I type this I have the girl of my dreams on the couch to my right and a release date for my story in my inbox.

So, boys and girls, mark your calendars for February 9, 2016 and stay tuned for what dreams may come.

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