by Julia Buckley
I remember waiting to find out whether or not I was going to be published by Midnight Ink. They had been discussing my manuscript and keeping my agent apprised of its progress; I got occasional e-mails saying “It’s still under consideration.” I was granted a lot of time, therefore, to contemplate how much I wanted it. I was about to turn forty. I saw this as my opportunity to accomplish something pretty big before leaving my thirties.
This is a pattern with me; a week before I turned thirty I bore my first child, so I got in just under the wire at the end of that decade, too. Now I can say that I had Ian “in my twenties,” but just barely.
The book, as I saw it, was another kind of baby, and I really wanted it to be born with Midnight Ink. It was December (my birthday is on the 30th), and I was waiting for a call from my agent, who was expecting word any moment. However, it just so happened to be my husband’s day off, and I had to go to work, so I told him to keep track of any messages.
My husband picked the boys up from school and then they came to get me at work. He didn’t say anything when I got in the car, so I assumed he had no news for me, good or bad. We drove for a time, talking about the day and wondering what we’d do for dinner. Then I noticed that Jeff was looking at me warily, out of the corner of his eye.
“If I knew something,” he said, “would you want to know that I knew?”
My heart began an uneven stacatto. “Do you THINK I might want to know what you know? Otherwise I’m not sure.”
He paused. He didn’t want to mess this up, for fear that later I would say, “You totally destroyed the moment!” (Which I might, in all fairness, have said). “I’m just wondering, if you had some kind of phone message, if you’d want me to tell you what it said, or if you’d want to listen to it yourself.”
The uncertainty was killing me, but I didn’t want to risk bad news. “Uh—do you THINK I’d want you to tell me the message?”
My children were getting annoyed in the back seat. They had long since left sweet, chubby babyhood and entered into a rather sarcastic adolescence that required them to ask “What’s your point?” on a regular basis.
“What’s your point, Dad?” asked my eldest with no small amount of scorn.
My husband caved in. “I’m talking about Mom getting published! Mom is going to be a published author!”
Burdened as I am with the German reserve, I didn’t hoot and holler, but I enjoyed a moment of quiet pride. “That’s good,” I said. That was the understatement of the year, but I never have been the screaming type. The boys congratulated me and asked if this meant we were going to be rich. I said no, and then, understandably, they sort of lost interest.
Still, it was a great moment, and I recall it with happiness, just as I do the birth of my babies. I made sure to tell friends, family and colleagues the news BEFORE the New Year, though, so that I could officially say I sold a novel while I was in my thirties. Now I have to decide what I must accomplish before I turn fifty. Seeing one of the books become a movie? Singing the National Anthem at the World Series? (Hey, it could happen). Feel free to leave your suggestions here. I will take them under advisement.