Not an Overnight Sensation
Updated: Feb 17, 2020
I’m going to get vulnerable with all y’all. Forgive me, I just watched a Brené Brown video. I lived in Texas for a few years, so I’m feeling her southern straight shootin’ vibe right now.
What I’m about to share with you may be a bit ridiculous, but here goes.
A year ago, I met the most amazing editor who pulled the best out of me. I was writing a memoir about an alcoholic bank robber who offered me a big clue to my past. I took the bait, and something magical happened.
After reading the final draft of my memoir, my editor and I were both in tears. She wrote to me:
“I was so uplifted by that read - I read it in one sitting. And imagine, I'm a person who has read it many, many times but I was just floored by it. I cried, I wanted to underline lots of different quotes. I'm in awe.”
She sent it to three professional readers. These are people who critique books for a living. They all had enthusiastic responses, and “high hopes” for my book.
Arianna effing Huffington responded to an email from me within an hour of my sending it and said she’d introduce me to one of the most powerful literary agents on the planet. That agent welcomed the introduction and offered to read the first few chapters. That same week, another literary agent who manages the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu and Richard Branson expressed interest. His firm is known to be highly selective, and yet he responded to me in under 24 hours and introduced me to his acquisitions person (talent scout). I had the attention of A-listers! I was flying high!
Soooo, woe is me. Poor baby didn’t get signed by an A-lister. Yet.
It’s ludicrous, really. Who am I to think an A-lister would be interested in this random schmoe. I’ve read the statistics. Most agents won’t even consider a memoir unless you’re uber famous with a mega following. The cards are stacked against me.
But then I think about the people I’ve already met. The conversations I’ve had. After numerous rejections, I pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going. This is for the young woman in prison who accidentally killed her mom while driving under the influence. Her aunt (her mom’s sister) asked me to let them know the moment the book comes out. This young woman needs to see a true story that proves that goodness can come from broken people. This is also for those who felt worthless or counted out. The adopted people who felt unwanted or out of place. I see you. I know your worth.
So, maybe this will take a little longer than I first thought. Maybe I won’t be an overnight sensation. Hahaha! That’s okay. I’m going to enjoy the journey.
I talk with God about this from time to time. For a while, I asked God, “Why did you give me the audacious hope by having so many big-time agents express interest, only to be left hanging without a contract in sight?”
The answer: My audacious hope, with the encouragement of superstars, gave me the courage to leave a job I was no longer happy in to chase my dream. When I’m old and on my deathbed, I will look back on this time as a wonderful gift. I walked away from misery and into possibility. Each step toward a dream builds the muscle of resilience. I am stronger for trying.
Postscript: Maybe I’ll never have a New York Times review, or a tabletop display in the front of Barnes and Noble, but I’ll be richer for all the people I’ve met and experience I’ve gained. I’m grateful for what the critics had to say thus far:
“I loved the message behind this book: every story matters, and every person – no matter how famous or ‘random’ can make a difference.”
“This book really teaches you that people are more than just their past (or even their present!).”
“This is a highly inspirational story that I find extremely uplifting. I love the idea of not being limited by imperfection. We are all flawed, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have value and aren’t capable of doing good in the world. Great message!”
“The premise is so amazing. Anne knows she was blessed – twice – and she does everything she can to make her life count, so other people can live a better life.”