In the last three days I've attended two incredible concerts. This is a photo from outside the first show in Detroit, Jack White's hometown. Last night's show was at the Masonic Temple, one of the city's great historic buildings, which White had a hand in saving from demolition a few years ago. The first night was viewed from plush seating in the fifth row (though we never sat); the second, from the crowded, screaming, quaking humanity of the general admission pit. I feel so fortunate to have been at both ... and to have given myself permission to be overindulgent and attend two concerts in three days.
I realize that might sound funny. But I'm a mom. A wife. A Registered Nurse. A writer. A homeowner. A pet owner (with two pretty sick and needy pets recently). I'm also a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend. Like so many women, I wear tons of different hats. It is a constant balancing act keeping them all straight and doing justice to each. The one hat I neglect most often, the one that stays crushed at the bottom of the closet, is the one I didn't mention. I am also just Tracy. Before I was any of those things listed above, I was me.
Don't get me wrong. I love being me while wearing those hats. But I learned after having my kids (to be specific, years after having my kids), that if I don't occasionally invest time doing something for the sole purpose of my own enjoyment, I start to really suck in all those other roles. I lose myself. I lose track of the little things that make me me. My love of music, to name one. After my daughter was born, and then my son two years later, I lost a solid 6 or 7 years (not kidding) of music. Forgot about it. And not just music. Books. I missed the release of so many books and albums in that time that when I rediscovered my first loves, after finally climbing out of the diaper pail (gross but that's how it felt sometimes!), I truly felt as if I'd found myself again. Left standing out in the middle of nowhere, still a young adult who hadn't yet grown into any of the hats I am now lucky enough, blessed enough, to wear. Except now I'm not a young adult so much as a forty-something adult. And it is so much fun nurturing that forgotten part of myself now, especially since I've discovered that the infrequent times I do choose to indulge, those experiences make all the hat-wearing versions of me a nicer, richer, more engaged me. True story. I know most of you know what I'm talking about.
Two most favorite moments from the last three days of concert whirlwind:
*Being part of the hushed audience at the Fox while Jack White sang You've Got Her In Your Pocket, completely overcome with raw emotion, his voice cracking and his hand covering his eyes at one point. THAT is creative passion.
*And singing along to Just One Drink, my friend and I turning to face each other and shouting "I drink water, you drink gasoline" at the exact same moment, before turning our attention back to the rock concert onstage, that strange and wonderful joyful not-guilty pleasure that feeds my soul and makes all of my hats fit so much better.
So, this happened.
I’m now represented by Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel. Okay, maybe I did this a little backwards, getting a publishing contract before a literary agent. I guess that’s just how I roll—can’t do anything by the book (sorry, bad pun).
Anyway, this isn't widely acknowledged or spoken about, but I’d be a traitor to my peers if I didn't say it. Many of us spend months or years querying literary agents in an attempt to secure representation. Often, this is done while maintaining a full time job, going to school, raising families, and carving out actual writing time (querying is not writing, doesn’t scratch that itch). Somebody once asked me how many queries I’ve sent out, and at the time I think I joked that I wasn’t counting until I got an agent. I’m still not counting. I don’t need to know. I think it really comes down to this: querying the right agent at the right time with the right material, persistence, and luck. Sure, there's obviously more to it than that. And I'm not naive enough to think that everything will be easy from this point on. I know this is just the beginning. I'm so happy to have a beginning.
For me, it’s been a long road, and I’ll admit there were a few times I wholeheartedly threw in the towel and swore I was quitting: quitting writing, quitting querying, just flat out quitting. Enough. The problem is, I can’t quit writing. I have tried. I’ve put serious effort into rehab and recovery, avoiding my laptop and trying to silence the characters and stories in my head. The end result is always the same. Me, giving in to the addiction, resting my fingers on the keyboard, and welcoming the surge of adrenalin as I fall willingly back into words.
I’m so incredibly fortunate that Fran Black and Jennifer Mishler decided they like those words. My agent (wow, listen to those two words!) is excited enough for both of us about my next book, and all those after that. Which is good, since I’m currently still a little stunned. Numb. Dazed. Not catatonic or anything, but trying to wrap my head around the fact that I now have this great agency in my corner, believing in me and ready to help me be heard, be read. In terms of how stoked I am, I’d say today ranks right up there with all the biggies, the best and most amazing days in my life so far, no exaggeration. Thank you Literary Counsel!
Yes, it's a little early to announce an event for the fall. After all, it's the middle of summer! In my house, I'm not even allowed to utter the word "fall" or any other words that could possibly be associated with the beginning of another school year. But this has nothing to do with school.
I will be at the Howell Opera House Thursday, October 2nd, with family, friends, acquaintances, and hopefully lots of people I haven't met yet, celebrating the release of my first book! I'm the first to admit that this is something I've envisioned for a long time, but was never certain would happen.
Our beloved Opera House in my own town has a storied past, and I feel incredibly lucky it will be home to my book party.
Please join me anytime between 6 and 10 pm October 2nd, 2014, at 123 West Grand River Ave, Howell, MI. Books will be available for pre-order (link coming soon) as well as for purchase at the event. I'll be available to answer questions and chat, and I look forward to signing copies. Appetizers and sweets will be served, along with my famous brownies. I may even read a paragraph or two from The Fall of Our Secrets, assuming I can muster the nerve!