Some mornings, it feels like we’ve already put in a full day’s work before we step one foot outside the house. From the moment my feet hit the floor, I’m busy making coffee, packing lunches, organizing the backpack, double-checking homework, signing permission slips, fixing breakfast, brushing hair, and gearing up to start the car.
What I’m trying to say is this particular day I’m going to tell you had an ordinary start. We were busy doing all the things, and as I drove down our driveway, parking at the end to wait for the school bus, it was routine as usual. The yellow bus pulled up, and our daughter opened her car door. She’s always in a rush to get a few more words out before saying goodbye for her day at school. Have a good day Mom. Thanks Mom. See you after school Mom. I love you Mom.
This fall morning, she smiled and waved, before she said,
I hope a publisher calls you today and wants your book.
In all of her eight years, those were some of the nicest words she ever said to me, and I don’t think she really even knew it. My first thought was, how odd she would say that. How does she even know I’ve been working on a book proposal? It isn’t as if that was a topic of conversation I’d had with our little girl. Chasing this dream of mine was grown up stuff.
Then I realized, even if I hadn’t discussed it with her directly, she must have been taking in the updates I’d been sharing with her dad. Or maybe she’d overheard phone calls I’d had with her grandma or a friend. I had been working hard on a book manuscript and proposal going on a year now. Although I had next to no contacts in the publishing world, I’d been doing my homework. I’d created a list of potential agents and publishers, and slowly but surely, I’d been sending out my work. There hadn’t been any kind of response at all yet, just a big abyss of unresponsiveness, but I was trying to stay positive.
When I heard my daughter’s encouraging words, something in me shifted. I realized for the first time, I wasn’t just writing this book for some greater audience, although I hoped it would be published and read. Even though it would be a dream come true for me, I wasn’t writing it completely for myself either. I now had an even bigger purpose than either of those. I was writing this book for my little girl. The topic wasn’t one she’d be interested in for many years, but she was watching her mom do a hard thing. The book might not ever find a publishing home. I might never walk into a bookstore or library and pick up a book with my name on the cover. Don’t tell Disney, but not every dream comes true. Regardless, great things come from the striving. The pursuit of a dream is about the journey, not just the accomplishment.
I wanted to show my daughter how a woman responded when she came upon difficult things in life, and forged ahead. I wanted her to see that pursuing a dream, for me, writing a book, took a lot of research, a touch of rejection, and a ton of resolve. My own grown-up version of the three r’s. She learns how to take on challenges from watching me, and honestly, I’m not very good at it. I’m learning though. If you want something bad enough, it takes work. You have to get comfortable with staring awkward in the face. It’s called living empowered.
From that morning on, I gave my daughter regular updates on the process of finding a publisher for my book. I kept sending out query emails and submitting my proposal to literary agents. I found beta readers to give me their overall, initial reaction to my manuscript. I worked on revisions like it was my job. Like any other person who is trying to learn a craft, I busted my butt, and I told her about it. From time to time, seemingly out of nowhere, she’d tell me again she was hopeful I’d find a publisher. My daughter was learning a valuable lesson about sticking-with-it-ness. That was all the motivation I needed to keep pursuing my dream.
One fall day, I received an email from a literary agent. I’d gotten his name from a book online, and sent him my proposal like I’d already done to a dozen other agents. Except, for the first time, he wrote me back. It wasn’t a yes at first, but it started a conversation. I could hardly wait for my daughter to get home from school so I could share the news with her. It was the next step in what had become our mutual adventure.
I wrote the agent back, telling him more about the ideas I had for this book. We talked on the phone. A contract was signed. Soon enough, we’ll be shopping for a publisher. In every way, it’s a dream come true for me, and in large part I can credit my little girl with the success. Sure, I did the work, the agent took the chance on a new writer, but she was my motivation.
UPDATE: The book in this story released May 2020! Let your daughters see you do hard things.