the second tissue

I have never been so mortified in all my life as when she handed me the second tissue. It was bad enough that she pulled them out to give me the first one.

The advanced reading appointments at the writers conference were only ten minutes long. You pay a large sum of money for those meager ten minutes. And I used part of mine in tears in front of a seasoned agent needing not just one tissue, but two.

In all fairness, I didn’t start crying until after the critique part was over. I handled all of that quite well and was not even tempted to cry. She had some of the best feedback I got from any of the three appointments and I was grateful.

I knew before I sat down that the writing I had turned in was crappy when compared to industry standards. I thought it was decent when I wrote it (otherwise would I have paid professionals to tell me what they thought?), but when I reviewed it before my first appointment suddenly I saw a wealth of things I was previously blind to.

So I knew what I was getting into and beat her to the punch on much of what she had to say while the rest of it I took in hungry and dry-eyed, eagerly writing down each point in my notes. I said thank you and started to get up and she said we have more time and I did pay for this, did I have any other questions for her?

I told her I did before I came in here but I couldn’t think of any of them now and I rested my weight back into the chair, not sure where to go from there. Then she asked me about my kids. I started to tell her their ages and instantly knew I was not going to make it through the sentence.

No fair! I was prepared to remain professional, but now you have just asked me about my kids and my kids connect me to my heart and what with the run in with the pole last night and my dreams of getting a book contract smashed to smithereens my heart is a bit tender right now! Crying in front of an agent is terribly unprofessional but you asked me a non-professional question and now I am crying and you are handing me tissues!

To make matters worse, she was kind to me. If she had just been awkward or mean I could have reeled in the tears and pulled it together. But she kept being nice to me, offering what seemed like genuine care thus making a safe environment for me to continue to lose it. “What else do you do when you are not with your kids? What do you do for a break to get away from them for a while?”

Lady, you are not helping. I write that’s what I do. And I think we have adequately covered that topic. I mumbled something about pictures for the blog and then the bell rang announcing our time was up. Praise the Lord.

I didn’t have to sign up for those critiques. And if I hadn’t, the conference probably wouldn’t have been so painful. But it would have been a lot less valuable too. I would have stayed in my dream world, happy and safe……and wondering “what if?”. I took a chance. I put myself out there. And for now, that is the win. Even if it came with the second tissue.


If yesterday was “trying to breathe” then today is definitely “hyperventilating”.

Yeah. That’s is my husband’s new car in the picture. The one that I was driving to the conference. I hit a pole as I pulled out to come home. Mostly drive-able but somewhat banged up.

I am the car.

My one-on-one appointments didn’t go as well as I had dreamed them in my mind. I knew that was likely to happen, but it didn’t make the dream less desirable, thus less painful to part with.

I fought back tears now and then in the following few hours. There was more learning to do so the emotions would have to wait. I am not sure my emotions are used to waiting.

But by the end of the night I thought I had moved passed it. The agent I pitched to during the social time who asked me to send all of what I had (when the revisions I told her about are done) helped a bit for sure.

Then I hit the pole. A four-letter word may or may not have passed my lips. As I drove home I battled myself just like I did in the era my book is about. Because of the plot seminar I took today I can now articulate the “faulty belief” I held in those days. Love is earned.

And ever since my one-on-one’s that didn’t go how I dreamed, I struggled with a feeling that I had not earned the right to be loved by my husband (who sacrificed time, money, and a weekend as a single parent for me to be there).

I know this isn’t true. In my head, anyway. It was just hard to convince the rest of me. Especially after that pole.

Love is a gift…….a gift of grace.

My husband does not love me because I make his life easier or better or more comfortable. He doesn’t love me because I am such a wonderful wife and avoid poles when I drive the car.

I was just so frustrated that I was dealing with this old issue. No matter how my husband might respond (because let’s give him some grace and remember he is a human husband and doesn’t love to spend a long hard day with the kids just to have his wife come home with a banged up car) I want my reaction to be one of a person who knows that love is not earned.

But like the car, even though there were some hits today, all is not lost. I certainly have made some wonderful friends and connections at this conference. My understanding of the book I am writing and the audience I am writing it for is clarified. I have WAY more tools to practice to become a better writer. And after moving through some emotions and lots of Kleenex, I remember that love is a gift of grace, impossible to earn.