Anyway, several things kinda converged to buoy my spirit. As I mentioned, one was just talking about the gloom (funny how that happens, huh?). Another was hearing from all you wonderful people -- Dineen, Gina, Kelly, Noel, Janet, Sandy, suz -- may God bless you all for the words of encouragement (and rebuke!). Stephen Koch's, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, rekindled the fading embers (thanks Mark Bertrand for the recommendation). And that six pack of Guinness helped too (just kidding). But something else happened that was really... weird.
I had a dream.
Now I'm not easily enamored with visions and words and premonitions, nor people who claim to have them all the time. But I believe God spoke and God speaks; He still interacts with His people on a personal level. And sometimes this involves oddball intrusions.
Well, that's what happened last weekend before dawn. I woke up with a Scripture blaring in my brain.
Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. (Ecclesiastes 11:1 NIV)
Hmm. This is not on my list of "life verses," or something I read recently that was shuffling about on my cerebral sidewalk. But there it was, standing at the curb of my consciousness, tapping its foot, waiting for a ride. What do you want? I asked. Let me in, she replied, and I'll show you.
So I scratched the verse on an index card and taped it over my desk. Coincidentally, I had vowed to finish my Proposal package that weeked... something I'd vowed to do the previous four weekends. But between Koch's book, my pushy writer friends, my desire to get on with another project and now this peculiar Scripture-dream, I was able to squeeze the pitiful turd out.
So it's done. Now what? "Cast your bread upon the waters..." You mean...? Yeah. Just cast it, fling it, scatter it. You know, mail it out, doofus. So I did that. I'd gathered names of literary agents I wanted to contact, started at the top and mailed a query letter to four of them. In the next hour, four things happened that left me rather stunned.
* I received a rejection letter on a short story I subbed almost six months ago.
* I received an acceptance letter and contract from a semi-pro sci-fi print magazine for another story (more on that later).
* The agency at the top of my list contacted me, said they found my premise and writing style to be intriguing, requested a full proposal and sample chapters.
* Another agency contacted me also requesting a full proposal and sample chapters. (They've since requested more chapters.)
And this all happened within the first hour of submitting my stupid Proposal. No lie.
I always tell my kids, Expect the worst and hope for the best. Pretty pessimistic, huh? I'm under no illusion that the interest of these agents will actually amount to anything -- i.e, I'm expecting the worst. But all my moping seems pretty silly now. And that odd little verse has suddenly taken on a world of significance.
Casting means letting go. And in a way, that's been a difficult thing for me. I labored over that story for a year and half, and now it was time to fling it into the unknown. The editorial abyss has been known to swallow stories and leave aspiring authors shipwrecked. But God promises a safe return. I've got a long way to go but I'm slowly beginning to believe that. Perhaps you find yourself on the shoreline today, watching the surf, wondering if the "bread" you cast will ever return. Take heart, dear writer, "...for after many days you will find it again."