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Thursday, April 29, 2010

What totems, rituals, or superstitions do you have...

I am having a Jan moment in which I am trying to think of totems, rituals, or superstitions...and unlike Jan, I am speaking with no (intentional) irony when I say that I don't have any.

I definitely did when I was growing up. The things other authors have listed here sound very familiar. But that was bound to end, because I am a logical person. I mean, a REALLY logical person, so logical that I'm not a lot of fun sometimes. On top of that, I taught freshman English at three different large state universities, and those classes were all about making a logical argument. If I had any whimsy left in me, teaching those classes beat it out of me. Honestly, my favorite TV show is Mythbusters!

And if that were not enough, there was the bee.

It was November 2004, a lovely crisp fall Saturday in Atlanta, where I was living at the time. We were planning a move back to Birmingham, so we were having a garage sale. The day started out great. We got rid of some bad furniture we'd been lugging around through several moves. And then the haggling started. People started coming up to me and asking if I really wanted a quarter for this baby shirt, because it had the tag cut out of it and they couldn't tell for certain what size it was, etc. I mean, PEOPLE, do not malign the merchandise at a GARAGE SALE. Come on.

So the morning wore on and my mood got pootier, and about noon I watched the post office truck stop by my mailbox and move on down the street.

Now, I will admit, at that point I was an unpublished author, and I did have some lingering superstitions about the many query letters I had out to agents--for instance, the longer I waited to check the mailbox, the more likely something good would be in there. But it had been a long morning and I could not resist, so I went down and peered inside.

There was a letter. From the agent of a huge best-selling author. I had queried this agent because at that time, the huge best-selling author had just come out with her very first book--but it was similar in style to the book I was shopping, and the author was from Atlanta like me, and I thought this author would really go places (boy was I right--her books are piled in Sam's Club right now, in my view the ultimate aim of any author).

I opened the letter.

It was a revise-and-resubmit. A rather scathing one, actually, asking me to compromise the very parts of my book that I loved the most.

I was SO DISAPPOINTED. My heart broke (again).

And as I was standing there reading it, a bee zoomed out of the mailbox, zipped down the back of my shorts, and stung me on the ass.

This was a Sign that I should stop trying.

I could have believed it. I was tempted to believe it. Believing it would have been so much easier than pursuing a career as a novelist! But I did not.

And I have not believed any Signs since. I believe only in my own hard work.


Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

Oh for heaven's sake-- it wasn't a Sign you should quit trying. It was a Sign you should get your ass in gear. Literally, lighting a fire under you.


That's your problem, my friend. You clearly need practice reading the signs. *g*

Jennifer Echols said...

*snort* I thought you might say that.

Jan Blazanin said...

Those picky garage sale shoppers--aren't they amazing? I've had the same experience, which is why I don't hold garage sales any more. Then a stinging letter from an agent. Why are some of them so mean? Our egos are already fragile enough! And, the final indignity, a literal sting on the ass. At least you could swat the little sucker, which you couldn't do in the other two cases. I hope you made it count!