It’s the end of a seemingly ordinary workday when an email from the senior editor at the publishing house arrives. The subject line is, “Offer of contract coming on Friday.”
I gasp. Does this mean what I think it means?
I click to open the email, chanting, “Oh my God oh my God oh my God.”
It does mean what I think it means. It means that after weeks of waiting and years of work, Broadleaf Books is offering me a book deal.
I have put my whole heart into this book, and the sweetness of knowing that it is going out into the world this way is almost more than I can bear.
There’s a text message from my literary agent: “CONGRATULATIONS!!! Check your email!”
But I can’t respond to either message, not right this second. I need a minute to breathe. I’m 33 years old and 35 weeks pregnant, and I’ve wanted to be a published author ever since I was six years old.
In pursuit of this dream, I’ve been blogging for eight years, and writing for many more. I’ve spent countless hours conducting interviews and giving freely and building our community and readership.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes I’ve written and rewritten this book in its entirety, multiple times. I’ve created a proposal, and then a different proposal.
This was not an easy or straightforward process. I’ve had to wrestle with the voice of doubt, the voice that hisses, “Guess it’s just not going to happen.”
But all of it has brought me to here, now, to this overwhelming moment.
“Oh, I need to find Jonathan,” I whisper. And there is a rush of love in my heart, such complete clarity in knowing who needs to hear this news first. I will call my closest friends soon, but first I need to find my husband.
He has always believed that I could do this, and he has offered so much practical support in service of this goal. He’s built websites and designed banners til the cows come home. He deserves to hear this news immediately.
Jonathan is outside, painting our porch in the stifling Alabama heat. We’ve been married for nearly 10 years; the moment he sees me, he puts down the paintbrush.
(This is us the night before our baby was born.)
“I got a book deal,” I say, and his face breaks into a full-on grin. My husband is the king of subtle facial expressions – the single raised brow, the slight half-smile – so this? This is special.
He wipes the last of the white paint off his hands before carefully wrapping his arms around me in my black tank top and big belly. It is too hot for hugging, but we don’t care.
I have to cry – just a few happy tears – and he has to hold me close and say, “What is this? No crying!” which of course only makes me cry more.
Even as I’m in it, I know that it’s one of those moments I’ll remember all of my life. We are standing there in our front yard in each other’s arms, feeling our long-awaited baby kick. She is strong and bright as the late-afternoon light, bathing us all in blessing.
It’s too hot to stay outside for long. Passing the mirror in our hallway, I stop. There’s someone else I need to talk to: Me.
“You did it. You are an epic fucking badass,” I say to my reflection, quoting Katherine North and swearing with a smile on my face.
My upbringing strictly forbade swearing, and I save it for special occasions. Right now, the once-forbidden words feel just right.
“You didn’t give up,” I say to myself. “It has been a long road, and you did not give up. I am so freaking proud of you. You fought for this. And now you get to go ahead and enjoy every bit of it.”
And that’s when it dawns on me: This sense of celebration in my core is not just about the book’s publication.
It’s about the way I’m talking to myself now. This is what I’ve been practicing for so long. This is what all of the inner and outer work has wrought.
This is what I’ve always wanted, even more than a book deal: To be in my own corner. To look myself in the eye, say kind words to myself, and mean them.