Monday, March 3, 2008

how i quit writing... then started up again (part three)

on halloween, 2002, i asked for a Sign about what to do with my life, because i was about to be laid-off for the third time in five years. all through november, i hunkered down, and watched and waited, as the handwriting on the wall grew easier and easier to read.

the vestigal work ethic i have arduously cultivated over the years prevented me from doing extracurrricular writing on company time. i read a lot of online papers, read a lot of interesting stuff. the story - the one i hadn't been able to interest my agents in for love or money - had begun to percolate in that maddening kind of way stories and characters do, but i was steadfastly ignoring it all. my work projects had evaporated. the only time my phone rang was at lunch and coffee-break time.

i had no idea what i was going to do. my oldest daughter was at uconn. my son was in his senior year of high school. my two younger girls were in ninth and fourth grades. christmas was coming - my ex owed me over thirty five thousand dollars in child support. i couldn't justify starting to work on a new book when i was facing certain lay-off. i knew what i SHOULD be doing, but everytime i'd turn to my resume, or think about looking for a job, i'd hear the little Voice say, you don't have to do that.

i want my Sign, i'd say back. i want my Sign NOW.

just trust, said the Voice.

finally, on december 3, 2002, i went to work as usual. by 9 AM, i had read the online editions of the wall street journal, the new york times and the washington post. i checked the drudge report, the huffington post and maureen dowd. a long empty day stretched before me. i had nothing to do.

in sheer desperation, i decided to work on the story. i opened a new Word file, typed out "p-r-o-l-o-g-u-e." i typed out the first sentence.

in the bottom right corner of my screen, the email cursor began to blink. ignore that, said my internal editor. i could hear the whip crack in the background.

but i was so, so terribly curious. for the last month, my email consisted mainly of my horoscope and mass-mailings. i just have to know, i told my inner editor. maybe it is just my horoscope. but i have to go look. i wont answer it and i will come right back. i promise.

so i clicked on the cursor. when i saw the title, my mouth dropped open and i know i started to cry.

it was from my agent, who i hadn't heard from in nearly a year. the title of the email was FANTASY NOVEL. she wrote that harlequin had started a new fantasy line, for which my last idea would be perfect, and she was inquiring as to the status.

and i knew i had my Sign.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.

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