Since my agent had begun submitting my novel many moons ago (thought it felt like many years!) I had plenty of time to run through imaginary scenarios, everything from how I would react if/when my agent called with an offer, to how I would react if/when my agent called to tell me that he’d made a colossal mistake in offering me representation and had been under the impression that I was actually an expert in Japanese business etiquette.
In the first scenario I imagined that I would react with a heady dose of pleased excitement… but let me back up a moment. Shortly after the book went out on submission, I programmed my agent’s phone number into my cell phone, and made sure to give it a very distinctive ring tone so that I would perhaps have a few seconds to collect my thoughts and the like. Anyway, back to the pleased excitement. I imagined that I would have the expected measures of exultation and pride, that I would ask my agent cogent and professional questions about the offer, and then after concluding the conversation I might then share the news with my coworkers, but would more likely wait until a deal was completed, just to be safe.
I discovered that it was much like imagining what an orgasm might feel like before ever experiencing an orgasm.
First off, the number that I had programmed for my agent was apparently for his direct extension, and when he called the number showed as what I’m guessing is the main line for the agency. So, not only did I not get my special ringtone alert, but I didn’t even recognize the number and stared at it for a couple of rings wondering where the heck a 212 area code was from. But I went ahead and answered it, and it was my agent, sounding like he was in very high spirits. He cut right to the chase and told me that he had an offer, from whom, and for how much.
At that point my brain turned into mush. He might have said something about giving my first born child to the Purple Frog God that lives beneath Manhattan for all I was aware. My carefully rehearsed cogent and professional questions went up in smoke, and I began to emit a high pitched squealing tone while drumming my feet in a staccato that was loud enough for all of my coworkers to pop out of their cubicles to see what the hell was wrong with me. My agent said some more stuff that I have zero recollection of, then concluded the call, no doubt wondering why his phone was making that strange high-pitched noise.
Upon hanging up, I threw the “don’t say anything to coworkers just yet” plan right out the window, and instead starting jumping up and down and screeching at the top of my lungs about books and offers and publishers. They offered congratulations, but I could see the fear in their eyes, the caution that one uses when dealing with the emotionally unstable.
I ran outside to call my husband, and after three tries at making myself understood I somehow managed to calm down enough to give him the details (or at least the ones I remembered.) After I hung up with him (or perhaps on him, I am still not very clear about that) I returned inside and informed my supervisor that I was going to be pretty useless the rest of the day and could I take a couple of hours of leave. She agreed quite readily, no doubt thinking that all in the office would be safer if I departed the premises.
I called the rest of my family, and then called the very close friends, and then called the not-so-close friends, and then started scrolling through the contacts in my phone to see who else I could call. I briefly debated calling the AT&T representative who had configured the DSL in our office last year, but finally decided that it would probably take too long to remind him just who the hell I was.
I may have accosted some strangers along the way too. Not too sure.
But, by the next day I had calmed down to sane(r) levels, and managed to write an email to my agent with various questions. He responded quickly with answers to my questions, but he started the email with “I got the deal up to [more money.] Are you okay with that?”
Um. Uh. Yeah. Yeah. Cool with that. Frosty Cool.
Around mid-afternoon I received the email telling me that it was all official. A few minutes later I received a call from my editor. Just to show how much of a fog my brain was still in, I still didn’t make the connection to 212 and New York, and was thus caught quite unawares by the call and managed to give a stellar impression of a babbling idiot. Yes, those first impressions are key, and I’m sure that she is even now wondering how to face the challenge of molding a socially-retarded lump into someone who can speak in complete sentences.
But now, nearly 48 hours after that first call, I think I have regained my lost IQ points and have managed to accept—for the most part—that it really happened. There’s still a tiny part of me that thinks that perhaps I’m in some inexplicable coma and am having a really fascinating extended dream. If such is the case, I hope that I will at least sleep long enough to see it hit the shelves.
And if I’m not in a coma? Well, then it’s just too cool for words.