I am sick today, with a sore throat and a head cold, so I figured since I am not good for much else I would try to bring people up to date on events.
In late July I wrote a short essay about the 4th of July family gathering, and about caring for Grandpa. I posted the essay to my silverwarethief website. (I will try to re-post it here, sometime, for those of you who don’t check my silverwarethief website). Mom sent the essay to Margaret–a gardening friend–who was friends with Jane–someone who writes a blog for the New York Times on elder care and aging. Margert wanted to share my writing about caring for Grandpa (what I wrote on the silverwarethief website, that is) with Jane. I said sure, why not. I then found myself facing an e-mail from Jane saying she wanted to write about me on her NYT blog. Talk about things moving fast.
At that point I had to make a decision. On my silverwarethief blog I had three essays on caring for Grandpa jumbled in among all my other mundane writing. Jane was intending to link to those three essays. But I realized that as things stood a bunch of people interested in a particular subject (elder care) were going to come to my blog which was mostly not about that subject. Of course, I had my twilight blog which was full of writing about elder care–which you all know about, but nobody else does. While I have written stuff on Twilight which I have no problem sharing with the general public, there is other stuff on Twilight that I don’t feel so comfortable dumping before the unwashed masses of the general public. I felt I could do one of two things: Either simply leave things as they were and have potentially thousands of people come to my silverwarethief blog and find little they were interested in reading, or else extract the publicly appropriate material from Twilight and post it as a separate blog for Jane to link to in her writing.
I opted for the latter choice because I thought it a pity for people interested in the subject of elder care to only see a small selection of my writing which I was willing to share. Even so, I had to think about the matter for a bit, and count the costs, because while I was perfectly willing for strangers to read certain material, I was not certain it would go over so well with Grandma if she happened across it. In the end I decided that, while what I would present to the public would not flatter Grandma as she wished to be flattered, I would expunge it of all the most sordid bits of family drama so that while Grandma might feel it did not present her as the saint she wished the world to see, it would be an honest account of elder care which I would not feel was too publicly harsh with Grandma.
As a result, I assembled the website www.aswelivedbefore.com and imported all the material that I felt was appropriate. (You will have to copy and paste the link of you want to see the website–I’m not providing a direct link because I don’t want any back traffic.) I surprised myself how quickly, and relatively painlessly, I assembled the entire website in a few short days. I was then ready, or as ready as I was going to be, for a flood of traffic from the NYT. I was about to be exposed.
To the technically unsavvy in my readership, you have no way of comparatively judging traffic volume. In raw volume, all told I got approximately 2,000 unique visitors from the NYT blog. For my little website, that was a lot. For any truly successful blog, that was nothing. I was not inundated with comments, but I did get a number of favorable comments ranging from the inane to meaningful. Then, as quickly as the traffic came, it died away. It all would have been an amusing, but ultimately meaningless blip in my life, except for two very special people who happened to read Jane’s blog post, and come to read my blog.
The first to come was the literary agent. The same week as Jane wrote about me in her blog, I received an e-mail titled, “Greetings from a literary agent.” The e-mail said:
I’m a literary agent representing nonfiction authors — among them, New York Times health columnist Tara Parker-Pope, Pulitzer-winner Daniel Golden, CNN health correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and others.
I came to your blog via Jane Gross’ post.
Would you like to talk? I’d love to discuss a book based on your blog and experience caring for your grandfather. (My father is 93 years old.)
Please let me know if there’s a good time for us to chat.
Her name was Lynn. We talked, I was favorably impressed, and agreed to have her represent me. Two weeks later, I got a second e-mail. This one was titled, “From an Editor in New York.” It said,
Dear Mr. Purdy,
I’m an editor at Little, Brown publishers in New York, and I’ve been deeply moved by your blog. I’m sure you’ve had lots of queries from editors and agents, but if you are interested in developing a book, I’d love to be put on the list.
With best wishes,
Little, Brown and Company
As I mentioned to my family (with some humor) it isn’t every day that you have a literary agent requesting the opportunity to represent you. And it is a rare thing indeed for the executive editor of a major publishing company to contact you unannounced and announce that your writing made her blubber (my reading of “deeply moved”) and ask for the opportunity of publishing your book.
In a few short weeks my life was turned upside down.
With that said, I should hasten to add that nothing is yet set in stone. My agent, Lynn, was very pleased with the possibility of Little, Brown and Company we still must get the formal package sent out and Lynn said she would like at least one competing offer to make sure she knows what the market value of my manuscript is. But unless another publishing company offered a better monetary deal than Little, Brown and Company, Lynn said she would advise me to ultimately go with them.
We are aiming to have the book presentation package ready to go out by the end of this week.
All of this could end up going nowhere. With the economy in the tank, tons of books could be dropped from publication. Or nobody could want to publish it in the present climate. Or my book could flop. Or I could be a one book wonder, and not have another successful book. But regardless of all the what ifs and possibilities about the future, what strikes me most strongly about this whole thing is the visible (to me) working and directing of God. I just wrote that essay for my silverwarethief website, like I’ve done many times before. I did try to do anything, I didn’t have anything planned. But God kept prompting other people, and next thing I know I’m looking at a potential book publishing contract. And it wasn’t even the direction I was expecting to go in my writing.
Clearly, God is in charge of this show (as He always is, but sometimes we fail to remember). So, whether to outward “success” or “failure” I’m walking this path now, until God shows me otherwise.
On a mundane level this (obviously) means I will have very, very, little time to write about the happenings of everyday life here on the Twilight blog. I have limited time that I can devote to writing, and I will have to devote a large portion of it to writing this book. In the immediate future I will be throwing up some cross posts, but in the long term I think its going to go pretty quite here. But at least it is because of a good thing.
As a kind of one second update on Grandma and Grandpa I will say that Grandma continues in apparent good health since she has rebounded from her health crises early in the year. But along with her good health she is eating poorly, consuming meats, fats, and salts in quantities which are surely only speeding her demise to stroke or heart disease. But she is enjoying it (we say wryly). Grandpa continues his slow decline. Over all, things are very quiet here, which is good for getting a book written. But who knows how long they will stay quiet.
And I still have my sore throat and congested sinuses. Ugh.