A few weeks ago, I sent out a newsletter to my subscribers with a recap from a busy fall, and I said something about how I was looking forward to enjoying a peaceful December writing and spending time with family. WELL. I have been writing and spending time with my family, but it’s like I ordered a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream and this month instead delivered the most delicious and epic banana split imaginable.
Not only was THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS listed as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018, but then THIS happened!
It’s an understatement to say this is a dream come true. Because this is the kind of dream that I (a confident, optimistic person) did not even dare to think about. The idea of working with Nancy Paulsen has always seemed so out of my league that for years I never even brought her name up with my agent.
Here’s the backstory:
Last April I was excited to have my first book coming out soon and even though I knew it was with a small press, I thought I could make it work. Then, I got a call out of the blue from my agent that my publisher had just fired my editor, my publicist, and the entire children’s division! We didn’t know if the book was even going to go forward. When we found out that they were still going to publish it, I was relieved, but it was also clear that this book was going to get zero support from the publisher and it was up to me to make sure it could find its way to readers. I teamed up with the amazing goddess Kirsten Cappy, who not only loved the book but made it her personal mission to get the book into educators’ hands. We only had a handful of Advanced Reader Copies to work with, but it was just like doing grassroots organizing for GunSenseVT. Maybe you can only connect with a few people, but if they are moved, they might tell others and it can take on a life of its own. We were hoping…
Around that same time, I had the chance to talk with Karen Hesse (because she had just read the book and loved it!) She told me, “You need to be writing the next thing.”
I said, “nnnyugghhhhh.” (I hadn’t written something new since the election.)
She said: “When are you going to write.”
I took a deep breath. “Early morning.”
She said: “And what happens when someone invites you to breakfast?”
“I say ‘I can’t go because Karen Hesse told me I can’t.”
That day, I set a goal of hitting 45,000 words by September 1st, and I wrote 400 words every morning—and I hit my goal!
Then the first week of September, OCTOPUS released to WAY more buzz than I could have imagined, immediately went out of stock, & my agent, the fabulous Tricia Lawrence, called to ask if I could write up a pitch of what I’ve been working on because there might be editors interested.
And I said, “Yes,” and then I also decided I need to be brave and voice a dream that I hadn’t even been willing to voice aloud to myself before, and I said, “Can we send it to Nancy Paulsen, too?”
And NOW…HOLY BANANAS!!!! This makes my non-swearing-self want to say many swears and leap around with abounding glee!!! But since I can’t do that all the time, I’m just going to sit here and write and feel the joy within me like sunlight because I get to work on this book (AND THE NEXT BOOK!) with Nancy Freakin’ Paulsen!
One step at a time. It’s how we make change in our world. It’s how we make change in ourselves. It’s how we can grab on to the tiny voice in the back of our heads whispering the dreams we long for, even as the rest of us doubts our ability to achieve them.
Have faith that one tiny step in the right direction
no matter how hard it is
or how small it is
is making that NEXT step possible.