Monday, November 14, 2005

HOLY COW! WAITRESS GETS A BOOK DEAL!

waitressing shoes

I bought those shoes a couple years ago on sale for $14.99. A deal! I called a few of my waitress friends who came out and bought two or three pairs. But not me. See, I didn't plan to wear those ugly black clunkers much longer. Back at home, I was writing my little heart out (mostly in secret, lest people think I'm crazier than they already do). But also in secret, I believed something great was going to happen to me. Something miraculous. I was going to find an agent who had faith in me; and somewhere, somehow I was going to get a book deal.

This summer, when the soles sprung their first official hole and rain or every gooey gross substance on the kitchen floor oozed through and saturated my socks, I refused to buy another pair. Nor did I replace my yellowing tuxedo shirts. This, you see, was going to be my last season as a waitress. Those who had heard I found an agent, asked almost daily if I'd sold the book.

"We're revising," I said. "Maybe we'll go out with it in the fall."

People gave me the kind of looks reserved for escapees from the asylum. "Better get a new pair of shoes, hon," they said as they walked away.

Meanwhile, the holes in my shoes got bigger and the soles got thinner. But I was not buying another pair. Well, at least not till next spring. But worse than the problem with the shoes, my backaches required more ibupfrofen to quiet them, and my feet ached so much that sometimes I still felt them in the morning. Everything was telling me that the work I did was too physical for my ectomorph body, and that I'd been doing it for far too long. And yet the only Plan B I had was a miracle.

Then last Thursday around 11:30 a.m. the phone rang as I was wandering around the house with a coffee cup in my hand thinking about my work in progress. On the other end of the line, the most amazing literary agent in the known universe, Alice Tasman of JVNLA (Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency) greeted me cheerily.

"I have some very exciting news for you," she said. "Dutton has made an offer on your novel."

While she gave me the details of the offer, my eyes drifted toward my waitressing shoes which were sitting in a square of light in the middle of the floor.

"You mean I can hang up my waitress shoes?" I said.

"You can burn those babies," she replied.

What happened next and for the rest of the day can only be described as the five stages of happiness. In the countless times I imagined getting this call, this was not how I thought I would feel.

Stage 1. Weeping and shaking. Tears of joy? I'm not sure. They felt more like tears of shock or of something shattering inside me. When I called my husband to tell him the news, I was crying so hard that he was certain someone had died. "What!" he finally screamed on the other end of the line, giving me the kind of response I thought I would have.

Stage 2. Numbness. I proceeded to call everyone I know, everyone who believed in me, or didn't believe in me, and tell them, it happened. The words, the call I was waiting for since I was eight years old and first dreamed fo being a writer had been spoken. And yet, as I heard the happy responses of friends and family, I felt surreal. Who got a book deal? Me? It couldn't be true.

Stage 3. Drunkenness. Remember that good champagne I said I was drinking the other night? Well, it wasn't for nothing. It was then followed by a celebratory dinner and a bottle of pinot noir.

Stage 4. Crashing. When I came home from dinner, I went up to my room and fell into an exhausted, intoxicated sleep with my boots on, the pointed toes directed toward the ceiling like the wicked witch of the west. For a full hour, I slept the sleep of the dead.

Stage 5: Bliss. When I woke up, I found myself in the middle of the most beautiful room in the world. Who cares if the walls were still a pukey green and I had been planning to get new curtains for about three years now? It was my room. My life. And it was an amazing place. As I wandered around the house at midnight, I opened random windows and shouted out them. I did a victory lap around the lonely streets of my neighborhood. At 1:30 my cousin Ali called and the two of us laughed giddily the way we did as adolescents when a cute boy from school smiled in our direction. I noticed that all my animals, who are usually asleep at that hour, were up and trailing me around the house, wondering what was going on. The two dogs had dragged their toys out, obviously sensing the aura of celebration that I exuded. Whatever game I was playing, they wanted to play too.

I know that this kind of happiness cannot last,and probably shouldn't, because it's pretty much a full time job. "You gonna do the laundry, Mom. I need some jeans," my son asked a day or two into my bliss. To which, I answered, "Sorry, I'm too busy being happy. Maybe next week."

I also know there's lots of hard work ahead. But this has been my week for singing. For doing little dances in the middle of the grocery store. For my first sip of good champagne.

71 comments:

rdl said...

I am So happy for you!!!! I don't think I've been this happy since Luke was born!! WOO WOO!!! doin the touchdown dance. can't wait to pop the champagne.

Robin said...

Patry!! How fantastic! I'm so, so thrilled for you.

I knew there was a reason to stay up tonight. ;~)

Congratulations!

Patry Francis said...

Thanks R and Robin: It feels so great to be able to share the news with friends!

lucky said...

No ones prouder than me.

rockingrama said...

Congratulations! It's so good to see success both earned and shared. I wish you every happiness.

MB said...

Patry, dear Patry, I have tears in my eyes, of joy for you. I couldn't imagine this happening to a more deserving person because I do believe you are a writer - a storyteller - a poet - through and through. I don't have words to say --- I wish I could just give you a big ol' hug!!!! WAHOOOOOOOOOOO! And hey, you should think about getting another bottle of the good stuff. You only get the first time once!

I definitely want to know when the book is out so I can buy it. It's going to be a good read.

maria said...

Oh, I am so HAPPY for you. This is wonderful news...

On your book tour, when you come to the San Francisco Bay Area, just let me know, and I'll bring the champagne!!!

Years ago, an old roommate of mine and one of my best friends who used to dance with an ice theatre all over Europe, when she fell in love in Paris and saw the light about her future, we all went to the Seine with her and tossed her skates into the river, right by the original French statue of Liberty there... Your waitress shoes made me think of that and how you might want to do something truly commemorative with them....

Joel said...

Congratulations! Now you can look down on those people who looked down on you when you were a waitress....maybe....

Tom said...

Hey, dreams can come true. But I'd buy new shoes anyway!

Myfanwy Collins said...

This is wonderful news, Patry! Congratulations and I cannot wait to read your book. I know it must be fantastic.

marja-leena said...

Congratulations!!! A dream come true indeed! Now what do writer's shoes look like - red and shiny and magical???

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Congratulations Patry! Enjoy your bliss - you've earned it.

Diana said...

Congrats, Patry! This entry made me cry. You just had the day that most of us dream about. Ok, I'd better stop dreaming and get to work...

I'm happy for you, but not at all surprised.

JN said...

I just came acros your blog today. This is encouraging and wonderful news.

Patry Francis said...

rockingrama: Thanks for visiting me on my special week, and for your kind words.

moose: thank you so much, my friend. Hugs back.

Maria: I've always wanted to go to San Francisco, and now that I have a friend there, the prospect is even more exciting. Love your skate story. I definitely need a ritual farewell to the shoes, but don't think I can match your story!

joel: thank you. Your photo pretty much depicts my mental state for the past few days.

tom: thanks, and I think you're right. Those are some pretty appalling shoes sitting there in that patch of light.

myf: Thanks! All this happened the day we were emailing back and forth. I was dying to tell you, but at that point, it wasn't yet a deal.

marja-leena: Mostly, my writing shoes look like fuzzy red slippers. But PUBLIC writing shoes, that's a different story. Looks like I'm going to find out. Thank you for sharing my happiness.

Sharon: Thanks so much. Blissful it is, though today I think I'm going to have to break down and do the laundry.

diana: You were the first commenter ever on this blog. Glad you came by on my happy day. Thank you!

jn: Thanks for stopping by. Please come again!

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

OH MY GOODNESS. HOORAY. I just want to write in caps here. I am so thrilled and excited and proud and can't wait to read and oh oh oh. Success stories make my spine tingle. Brava, dear. Brava!!

xo
J

Katharine Weber said...

Many congratulations!

Frances said...

Patry, I've been following your journey on your blog. Congratulations, I am very happy for you. You have been forthright and honest about your search --and very PUBLIC -- which takes guts. I look forward to reading your book.

Ellen said...

YAHOO! So happy to hear this incredible news! Huge congrats, Patry!!!

Musing said...

Great news! Congratulations, Patry!!!

Lhombre said...

Hey! I'm, happy for you too. And thanks again for commenting on my poem "Tattoo."

I can empathize with your feelings. As a visual artist I can remember, long,long,ago the first one-person show I was given. The feelings that you describe are the same feelings I get still before each and every exhibition. I hope that you never lose the feeling you describe now.

There is a blog dialogue ( it begins with an entry on Richardlawrencecohen's blog) that leads to the question of "happiness." As soon as I figure out how to post your link to the blog I hope to do so. Your description should be read.

Gooid Luck!

Mary said...

What wonderful news!! I am so very pleased for you :-) Congratulations!!!

sfp said...

Congratulations, Patry! Can't wait to read your book!

Sara said...

Mazeltov, Patry! No one deserves it more. You are the real deal.

Cheers!

Rexroth's Daughter said...

This is such amazingly wonderful news. I am so happy for you. Delighted that, in fact, good things do happen to wonderful people. Congratulations, Patry. You are an inspiration.

Dave said...

Well, let me be the (twenty-)first to congratulate you! This is great! I hope the book is sufficiently well received by reviewers and public that you will be able to spend the rest of life happily ensconsed in writing, if you so choose.

irina said...

Oh, Patry,
what an exciting achievement for you! I am truly happy for you and wish you all the luck and the strength you need in the future. It appears your dream has come true: to get payed for doing what you love...
Well done!

Grendel said...

That is terrific, terrific news. Way to go, Patry.

Sherry said...

Congratulations. You're a good writer, and I'm looking forward to reading something a little longer than a blog post.

Patry Francis said...

Coming home to all these wonderful comments was like walking in on a big surprise party with balloons and a great big chocolate cake. I'm overwhelmed!

Is it too much to say that I love you all?

...Probably.Universallove--hmmm...must be the sixth stage of happiness.

katrina said...

Patry, this is wonderful news!! Congratulations! I can't wait to read it!

Katrina

Jeanette said...

That's wonderful news, Patry! Can't wait to read it! (Andi from Readerville)

Ova Girl said...

Patry how utterly fantastic!!! That is great great news and so well deserved. Looking forward to hearing more about the book and when we'll get a chance to see it.

Very inspiring!

kasturi said...

congratulations, patry! this is fantastically wonderful - way to go, girl!

Suzanne said...

OMG! Whooooohoooo!Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

!!!!!!!!!!

Sinéad said...

Patry I know you've got a special fondness for Ireland but I wouldn't for a moment suggest that the luck of the Irish had anything to do with this turn of events. I could say that say that years of 'saints and scholars' literariness has brushed off on you.

Mostly though, your gift with words, your honesty and your indomitable talent are responsible for this.

If you ever get to Ireland, a pint is on me!

ainelivia said...

Congratulations!!!*** Well done patry. Love your five stages of celebration. Waiting to see your book. Keep us informed. Whooooope. A Cold Autumn day has suddenly become brighter and warmer.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Patry, my friend Lhombre told me of your wonderful news although I hadn't been to your blog before. Heartiest congratulations to you! You'll remember these moments for the rest of your life. And you communicate the experience so clearly and likably to your readers -- and your other experiences and feelings, whether they're about your grandfather or a stranger at a gym -- that I'll look forward eagerly to seeing your novel in print.

Diana said...

I was your first commenter???!! That doesn't even seem so long ago. And look how many comments you've got on this post, just so far!

That's a testament to great writing. :)

Seriously, yours has become one of my all-time favorite blogs. It's consistently inspiring and interesting. I can't wait to read your book.

Natalie said...

Wow wow wow!!!! Dutton!! A proper book deal!!! The real thing! The turtle soup! This is too exciting. Give details, all the details. Congratulations and a roomful of roses. I'm pea-green with envy but that doesn't stop my joy for you. Coincidentally, on the front page of a newspaper here (London) today saying "Waitress Gets Book Deal" and something about her being nominated for the Whitbread Prize. Is this you????

Now what was that agent's name again?

mermaid said...

What a fan club, Patry. I've always believed that if you ask, the Universe will answer. Light doesn't always seem to bend your way, but when you believe you deserve to have it shining on you...Tah Dah!!!

colleen said...

Wow! Things like this DO happen! Congratulations!

Sinéad said...

Sadly that waitress isn't Patry, but maybe next year? :)

felicia said...

patry,
congrats!!! so well deserved.
cheers, felicia

Patry Francis said...

Thanks so much to all of you.

Lauren--I will never forget the advice and help you so generously gave me.

Sinead & Natalie: What a great story about the waitress winning the contest & getting nominated for the Whitbread.
Must be the year of the waitress or something.

Antoine said...

congrats, that's tremedous! celebrate every step of the way. AW

Vickie said...

Congratulations, Patry! I knew you'd do it. Now, where's my Christmas list...

1000 black lines said...

Congrats! I'm doing the happy dance in celebration of your success!

leslee said...

Woo hoo! If anyone deserves a book contract, you do. Great writing. Very happy for you - and I want a copy from the first pressing!

Jean said...

I've been ill and blogless for a few days, so only just read your news. Wow, that's wonderful! Please add my warmest congratulations to the growing pile tenderly encircling you! Your wonderfully evocative piece about how it feels just underlines how much your writing deserves to be published. Great big hugs and Hoorays!!!

ruth said...

patry i came to you from moose and this is my first visit but I also am prickly with tears! Congratulations.

Mama Rose said...

Congratulations!! I wish you the best with your book. :)

Linda

debra said...

Oh Patry! I am so happy for you. It's brilliant news. Much better than a Nanowrimo win :-)

I hope you're going to keep those shoes - hang them up somewhere as a reminder of all that hard work you've put in to achieve it.

ainelivia said...

Have just seen this, patry, it's the year of the waitress for sure...
http://news.yahoo.com/s/cpress/20051116/ca_pr_on_en/books_whitbread_award

ainelivia said...

Sorry about this patry, I seem to have probs getting the whole web address in the box. Hope it show up complete this time.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/cpress/20051116/ca_pr_on_en/books_whitbread_award

Dale said...

Well done. I'm happy but completely unsurprised!

Leora Skolkin-Smith said...

Congratulations, Patry. Bravo.

Melly said...

I'm singing and singing and singing with you :) :) :)

What great news to come back to after a long absence :)

There was no doubt in my mind ever that this would happen. You're an amazing writer and you deserve this!

(Can you send me those waitress shoes ;)

But really, you've made my day and I have a real stupid grin on my face.

Congratulations!

P. A. Moed said...

Let me join the long list of people who've said, "Congratulations!" I'd save those shoes, like Debra said. They're a great reminder of the path you've taken to get where you are now! All the best.

Patry Francis said...

I think I might make a mobile out of those shoes and hang them over my head in my office. Then, whenever I get lazy or whiney or sloppy about my work, I'll only have to look up and remember.

Would like to thank each of you by name, because amazingly, through the power of the blogosphere, I have developed powerful and real connections with so many of you. Right now, however, I can only say thank you, thank you, thank you.

Joel said...

Patry: Which photo? Hopefully not the one of my face?

Damian McNicholl said...

Wow!!! I'm pretty new to your site Patry and so happy for you.

Very well done and enjoy thre editing.

Patry Francis said...

Thanks, Damian. If I remember correctly, the last time you were here you were telling me about the dangers of checking your Amazon ratings excessively. Now it seems like I may get an opportunity to try that particular vice.

search engine secrets said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

great job!

persona said...

it happens. :)

The Persona said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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