I try to be smart. I try to do smart things. But sometimes…I’m an idiot.
Let me start at the beginning…
I don’t usually have dreams. Not the night-time kind, but the life-goal kind, of things you want to do…or be. I don’t usually have dreams of the future. Sometimes I just get really comfortable right here in the box.
Two years ago, I started dreaming of publishing a children’s book. The idea came to me one night. I was in Savannah, GA where my husband was preaching a revival. I met a man in the exercise room of the hotel where we were staying. He was on a stationary bike while I walked on the treadmill and was watching a Spanish television show. Since I don’t know many Spanish words, I just kept walking. After a while, he struck up a conversation, telling me he was a publisher and asked me if I would ever be interested in writing a children’s book. I was totally shocked and thought he was kidding. He was not. That night, I could barely sleep! I prayed about it-and it came! Words tumbled around in my head and I was writing as fast as I could! It was crazy!
Since then, I’ve been researching similar books on the children’s book market, scouring bookstores and libraries to see what’s already out there. It was fun but a little overwhelming at times. Then, I had to find out how to contact publishers and which publishers might be interested. (There are lots of rules!) You have to know who to submit to. And you absolutely HAVE to spell everything correctly. If you get a name wrong, it’s in the trash can immediately, without question. Most submissions have to be a certain font size and the spacing is important, too. Double spacing at times, while single spaced at others. Whew!
Meanwhile, I tweaked and re-tweaked my book. Mrs. Crigger, the assistant principal at Southside was my mentor/adviser. She read my book, made some awesome suggestions and then had the coolest and craziest idea. She wanted me to read it to one of the kindergarten classes! I was so excited! I couldn’t believe it!
Mrs. Varney, Kindergarten teacher extraordinaire, welcomed me to her class and introduced me as an “author”. (I nearly swooned.) She read my story-with great flair-to the kids who were gathered on the story rug. They laughed at times and repeated phrases. (It was so cool!) After she was finished, she told the class that I did not have an illustrator and needed their help. She asked each one to return to their desk and draw their favorite parts. It was one of the best days – ever! Mrs. Crigger, Mrs. Varney and all the Kindergarteners put fuel on my dreams that day!
I picked out a publisher for my book. After an extensive online application, they decided I was not what they were looking for. Publisher number two was chosen and I investigated many of the books they had already published. I reviewed the submission process, typed the letter-perfectly spaced, and mailed it all in. I whispered a prayer as I dropped it into the mail slot.
Time passed and more time passed. I heard nothing. I felt like it was a sign. They had read my children’s book but it was lacking in some way. I re-tweaked it and changed the name. That must have been what it was!
I was determined that they were right for me and I was right for them. I wouldn’t give up! I researched their company again and found another editor to submit a manuscript to. But this time, I would send a self-addressed postcard for when they opened my submission! Haha! I would know exactly when my work had entered the real process and was on someone’s desk! I prepared the papers, checking and re-checking, blah, blah, blah, put in the postcard and then it was on its way.
A few weeks ago, I received the postcard and was beside myself with joy. I knew, yes, I knew it was actually in someone’s hands! I checked my email every day, awaiting word. I was trying to NOT get my hopes up! But, I couldn’t help it!
Then…this morning…I saw the postcard again on my desk. I wondered if it had a date stamp on it. I couldn’t remember how many days it had been. Surely they had made a decision of some sort. I examined the card carefully turning it over in my hand. I read the message again that some nice person had taken the time to write on the back. Something didn’t look right. I flipped it over, front then back again. Over and back again. I groaned aloud.
I had spelled the publishing company’s name wrong! I had spelled the publishing company’s name wrong! Egads! No wonder I hadn’t heard from them! They had trashed everything I had sent because they thought I was stupid!
Note to self: Dare to dream, but always check your spelling!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.