ATTACHED PLEASE FIND OUR CONTRACT
By Jill S. Behe
Yes, I am.
I don’t feel like it, nor do I particularly look like it, but I am. My birth certificate says so. It has that authority and must be believed. That’s beside the point. It took me a long time to get where I am as a writer and as a person, but I’m here now, and don’t intend to quit until I’m cold and in a box. I’ve written a few novels so far (five!), and a whole bunch of short stories—with more of each on the way.
One of the novels was published a few years ago. During the process of writing it, and unbeknownst to me (the author), it decided there was a need for a second. And in the middle of writing said second, I realized there was going to have to be a third, to complete/finalize the happenings in my characters’ lives, to everyone’s—real and imagined—satisfaction.
To be honest, the one in print was only supposed to be an exercise in short story writing. With the writing group I participated with, the facilitator would hand out prompts and each of us would write a three page short, or as much as we could in the 60- to 90-minute time limit.
This night, my prompt … exploded!
Eight pages in, I was still scribbling when she called time. Nowhere near finished, I went home and kept at it, eventually ending it some 40,000 words later. Too long for a short, and too short for a novel. A friend from the writing group offered to edit it for me (Thank you, again!). The revisions added another 10,000 words or so, and Presto Change-o … a novel was birthed.
Pitched it out and it was caught!
Imagine thatheart-racing moment when I played back my editor’s voicemail: “Jill! Jill! Pick up! Pick up the phone! It’s accepted!”
I was in seventh heaven, on cloud nine, and all the other appropriate clichés.
What an odd time. Surreal is about as accurate a word as I can think of to describe that whole accumulation of things. Then to see the e-mails telling me, the bookseller’s site saying so: People unknown to me, and who didn’t know me, were reading my words, my story … my baby. And the really amazing part, they liked it! But even better, they wanted more, were already clamoring for a second book.
Whoa! Head rush!
I’ve been a reader all my life, literally. From the moment I was born, my family read to me (and my sibs), until we were able to read for ourselves. I’ve been a writer since (can’t remember any further back, but might be) about the third or fourth grade. And from that decisive moment, my life goal has been to be a published author.
That was accomplished in 2011. Doesn’t mean the journey’s done. No. The bar’s been raised. There’s another rung on the ladder. Something more to achieve.
NEVER, in all those years did I imagine what it would feel like, to have a book in print. To have people I know come up to me, and tell me how much they enjoyed it, and then add, ‘So when’s the next one coming out?’
Weird, and wonderful.
Is this how my favorite authors felt when their first was published? Is this how their families reacted?
With nonchalance, or a Holy Crap?
For me, it was Holy Crap! And now, with the second of the trilogy accepted and in the final editing stage, it’s about to start all over again. But with added pressure. Will my ‘fans’ like this one as much as they did the first? And if so, they’ll be after me for book three, (maybe with pitchforks to prod me along) because book two is ends with….
Oh, I probably shouldn’t say.
But, geez-Louise! My characters better start talking to me, or there won’t be a third. It’s maddening! Me, the reader, wants to know what’s going to happen, too. Me, the writer, wants to be in the thick of it, in the middle of the book where I know where the storyline is headed. That’s when the characters are the most vocal; at least that’s what I’ve found to be true.
As of this moment? Pfft! I’ve got a bunch of notes, and three skimpy scenes.
Fists are raised and I’m yelling (in my brain, because that’s where they live), “Come on, you guys, tell me what’s going on! The Rebel’s rooters want to know. I want to know. I can’t tell your story, if you don’t start talking!”
Writing is hard work. It might not put muscles on our bodies, but I’m sure our brains have more … muscle-mass, from all the straining and stretching we do. But when our work gets that ultimate demand of: ‘We want your manuscript,’ all the sweat, and pacing, and hair-pulling, and screaming at the monitor we did to get to this point, is worth it.
Then we have to hand over that baby we labored to bring forth. It’s like sending a child off to kindergarten by themselves for the first time, or sending a high school graduate off to a faraway college. It’s hard to let go, and hurts some, but not for long, and the results are way beyond measure.
So, whatever the level of writing, we can’t stop. Even if it’s (in our minds) a piece of trash when it’s finished, we did something very few people can. We created something, from nothing more than a thought.
Profitez de votre journée,