Bag Of Treats

About two weeks ago I packed up, and we headed for what some call the deep south.  The land of cotton, catfish, Ole Miss Rebels, William Faulkner, fried okra and green pickled tomatoes.

The trip takes about fourteen hours.  The first ten hours or so aren’t bad.  Towards the end though, the constant movement of the vehicle, the passing landscape, the “road food,” and the signs telling you how far you still have to go, begins to wear one down.  Once there, all that is forgotten.

My in laws have a house built on a hill.  Beyond a grove of hardwood trees, and down that hill, there is an area of flat green acreage known as the “bottom,” that seems to attract a lot of wildlife. There are deer, armadillo (saw a dead one buzzards were picking over, yuck) turkey and coyote.  We can hear the coyote at night, their keening and howling coming up the hill is eerie.   If you stand outside after dark, you can imagine there are eyes staring back at you.  I don’t linger outside after the sun goes down.  Nope.

The house was built as a replica of a house in Virginia.  My father in law’s ancestors fought in the Revolutionary war and he said the house in Virginia was once called “The General’s House,” because a bunch of generals met there a few times – or something like that.  There is a picture of it hanging on the wall in this home, and the only difference as far as the outside goes is the plan is in the reverse.

Before we left I popped off about 110 pages to my editor and then, immediately went into vacation mode.  I didn’t blog, I didn’t write, – not one brand new word in that latest work in progress, and I barely even kept up with the blogs I read.  I tried not to think about my editor’s review and what she might say.  An occasional sneaky worrisome thought would pop into my head, but for the most part, I didn’t dwell on it, because when I did, I would think the worst.  Things like, “she hasn’t emailed me yet because she hates it,” or, “she’s decided I’m so bad at this, she has no idea how to respond,” or the worst one (with me picturing her pulling her hair out), “what the hell is this story even about??  This is truly THE worst crap I’ve ever read.”

No.  It was best I didn’t think about it.  And I didn’t, well…, not too much.

Until…, I got an email from her on Halloween.   I stared for a full minute at the subject line – which told me nothing.  I  finally opened the email with one eye closed, and sort of leaning away from my laptop, like a hand might reach out (it was Halloween after all) to throttle my neck.  I would have felt like that had I read anything bad.  BUT.  She liked what I’d done, liked it enough to tell me to send it off to my agent for his opinion.  No changes.  It was like having someone hand me a big bag of treats, those words of hers, not one trick involved.  It had been four months since her last critique – the one where I had to trash everything and start over…, but, after many false starts since then, and the “magician” getting me to focus, it seems the story may finally have a chance.  To say I’m relieved is one thing, but mostly, I’m just anxious to get back to writing without the worry of what I’m doing not being worth the effort.  My husband couldn’t drive back fast enough.

Now, I’m here…, and I’m looking at my ms differently, all because of that good feedback.  Funny, how that works, isn’t it?

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