"I've studied all the pictures in magazines and books. I've memorized the subway map, too. It's one block north to Macy's and two to Brothers Brooks. Manhattan! I've prepared for you."
- Thoroughly Modern Millie
Once upon a time two weeks ago, I gave Biscuit a good-bye snuggle, tugged on my cowboy boots, grabbed my suitcase, and shuffled out the door toward Nashville.
It sounds like a dream as I’m writing about it now, and it felt like a dream while I was experiencing it. Which is fitting. Because sometimes dreams really do come true. I still can't believe I really visited NYC.
I saw the silver-gray water, the Statue of Liberty, and the Manhattan skyline rippling across the horizon. As the plane swooped lower, I saw the sun flicker across a thousand windows, and I felt like The Big Apple was giving me a big, flirty wink.
I could have stared out the window for hours. But I had too many fun things planned to stare for too long. :)
One of the highlights of my trip was meeting my agent, Suzie Townsend, and my editor, Mallory Kass. If we roll with the metaphor of this whole experience being a Cinderella moment (and I really can't imagine it getting any better than it has), then those two would be the fairy godmothers. But! In books and movies, fairy godmothers tend to be old and glittery and wear blue snuggies. Suzie and Mallory are gorgeous, brilliant and ridiculously talented. They’ve helped me find the heart of my story (and find a home for my story) which would be more than enough. But during the whole process, they’ve also helped me pick up just a smidge of newfound confidence, which is nothing short of magical. Whenever I chat with them, I always feel like I’m talking to friends. That’s a wonderful feeling.
(I’m in the middle, obviously.)
And then we meandered down several twisty-turny streets, stopping for bookstores and cupcakes. Here we are adventuring in the West Village!
And here we are in a cab! The cupcakes are taking their toll apparently, considering the way I’m slumped down in the seat ...
Here’s our cab driver, Ron Burgundy:
We ate delicious NYC pizza. Note the Spiderman photobomb:
* I totally flubbed and spelled the restaurant wrong. I hope that doesn't detract from the otherwise lifelike rendering of my experience.
My favorite thing about the restaurant (besides the four cheese deliciousness I devoured) was the noise. It wasn’t typical restaurant chatter: conversation and plates clinking and loud music, etc. I mean, it definitely had all of those things. But more than that, the whole place hummed with energy that was intoxicating.
... and that night, I remembered what it actually felt like to walk everywhere. It was a good kind of tired though. I stared at the city lights until I couldn't keep my eyes open. I felt like I was sleeping in the stars.
The next day was a day I’d been dreaming about, anticipating, and freaking out over for months. Mallory and I met for breakfast (I carb-load when I’m nervous, just FYI), and then we walked together to Scholastic.
... and 2.) the fact that I was so darn nervous. I was thrilled, excited, and grateful, but also (understandably, I think) a bit intimidated.
Yes, they have a pensieve!
And then I got to meet more of the wonderful people who are making my book ... a book.
Lots of the people I met had already read A Snicker of Magic *gulp*, and took the time to tell me how much they enjoyed it. That was surreal. I was overwhelmed in a wonderful way. I met lots of the talented people who work in sales, and one such fantastical individual told me that the book was like a dessert you never, ever forget. As a connoisseur of all things dessert, I understand the weight of that compliment! My new Scholastic friend Nikki bequeathed me this swankified necklace:
Which is now on my parents' mantel, I kid you not. I picked it up to get a picture of it and my dad frowned and said, "Where are you taking my ice cream?"
The light sabers belong to Bess and Whitney, marketing Jedi. I can’t wait to show you what they’re doing with A Snicker of Magic. My heart is still doing back flips over their work. They were so kind, and so talented. And Bess is a southern girl too, so I didn’t have to calibrate my twang around her at all. (Note: I didn’t feel like I had to do this with anybody, but it’s a proven fact: the longer I talk, the thicker my accent becomes.)
And I had planned to tell him 1.) how excited I was to meet him and 2.) that I’d just read his novel, Every Day, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It's one of those strange and beautiful books that never quite gets out of your system. But when he said hello, this was my very professional response:
But I was so, so happy. I thanked them for the heart and time they’ve invested in the story, even though “thank you” seems like such a puny word to express how I really feel. I talked about the inspiration behind my novel, which I’ll share with you as we get closer to Snicker's due date (Hints: The Avett Brothers, the Beatles, my grandparents). And then I read a scene from the book. That was very intimidating ... and kind of exciting, too. :)
I’d been so nervous about that, but I think it went okay. I always get worked up about talking to people, and it usually spins out fine in the end. (Are you ever this way? Still have a bit of stage fright that kicks in from time to time?) The Scholastics are so sweet that I could have flubbed the whole thing, and they still would have made me feel amazing. It’s hard to even put into words what the day meant to me. What they mean to me. I’m grateful for every single second of it.
That sweet little story has taken me places I never expected. In the words of my beloved Avett Brothers, "My hands they shake, my head it spins." And spins and spins. I'm so grateful.
I know this is getting lengthy, but can I share one more thing with you? I almost didn’t share this post.
When it comes to writing, I (still) have lots of days when I feel pressed and crushed by doubt, rejection and fear. Fear, especially. Anxiety has been a default setting for me since I was a kid. I have to be very intentional about not letting fears (mostly irrational) keep me from experiencing some great things. On a slightly smaller scale, there are all kinds of fears that creep up once you start to pursue publication. And I think rejection - not just the publishing kind, but the kind that happens personally when you’re brave enough to wear your heart on your sleeve - roars at you sometimes. Every time you take a step in the right direction, every time you stand up in front of a crowd, every time you try - some sneaky old rejection-memory slams against you.
Like, of course it happened for her. But it will never, ever happen for someone as [fill in the blank] as me. I know you’re made of tougher stuff than I am, but just in case you’re having a dumpy day:
And when the dream comes true (and it will), enjoy every glittering second.
Blog Bonus: OUTTAKES!!
Here’s Mallory, commandeering a sea vessel:
And here I am battling the Emperor for his ... leg of mutton? “The appetite ..." growled the evil emperor, "is strong with this one.”
And, of course, this post wouldn't have happened without my nephew, Andy, who is 100% awesome:
Did you take any fun trips this summer? I would love to hear what's new with you!