Punching The Clock

Well, it happened.

I got the email. The big one. The one I’ve been waiting for, hoping for, dreaming of. Okay, well, in my dreams it’s a phone call or an actual letter as opposed to an email, but I’ll take it.

It’s an open invitation from a real literary agent for all finalists to submit a full manuscript.

“All finalists”. That includes me. I’m a contest finalist. I took third place in my category in this year’s Launching A Star contest, and I have a chance to submit my manuscript to an agent. It’s not an acceptance or a contract, but it’s a foot in the door.

Holy crap.

I’ve written here about waiting for the results of this contest, and about my procrastination when it comes to actually finishing my book. But I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.

I understand that this invitation is not an offer to represent me, or a bid to publish my work.  I realize that the agent is likely to reject my novel; I googled her, and she has a reputation for being both fair and tough.  I am realistic enough to know that this is nothing more than a chance to get my manuscript on her desk.

A manuscript that isn’t done yet.

The first thing I did after reading the email (after text-messaging The Big Guy  and saying “OhMyGod” several times) was send off a quick message to the amazing, fabulous, knowledgeable Ms. Nancy Gideon. I asked her what I should do about the offer, since my novel isn’t ready for submission yet.

Her answer, in a nutshell: congrats, don’t panic, take your time, have fun. Of course, she said it better than that, but that’s what I took away from it.

Now comes the fun part . . . Because writing is fun.  That’s why I do it, and I don;t want to lose sight of that.

One of my favorite writers is Douglas Adams, who was one of the world’s greatest procrastinators. He famously said: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” This was a man who had an astonishing imagination and unfathomable talent, but who couldn’t finish anything without basically being imprisoned by friends when too many deadlines had whooshed by. It is saddening to think about all of the things he could have written before his untimely death at age 49.

I would be grateful to have even one ounce of his talent, but I don’t want to be like him. I don’t want to die with computers full of ideas and partially finished books. I want to finish something, damn it! I want to realize my potential, whatever it is. I just hope that my potential is to be more than a middle-aged mom tapping out essays about writing without ever actually writing anything.

And so I start working on Monday. Writing is my job. While my kids are at school and I am alone all day, I am going to write. If I want to play on the computer, I’m going to have to do it in the evenings, like all of the other working people in the world. No more cruising Listia, farewell to the gossip on Facebook. I’ve got a full-time job now.

It takes work to make dreams come true, and I am now officially on the clock.

Author: A.J. Goode

I am a romance novelist, single mother of three, and a high school lunchlady. To be completely honest, I have no idea which of those jobs is the most rewarding and which is the biggest challenge. I love them all. I write romance novels about the kind of people who might pass me on the street every day. My characters are often hurting in some way, and need to learn to trust others in order to heal themselves. I also blog about trying to focus on writing, and about my day-to-day experiences in small-town America. I write about life. The good, the bad, and the just plain odd.

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