For years I had this fixation on my mailbox. It was kind of like an affair. Unable to stay away, I ran out to check it two or three times a day, this mailbox that held my future in its steely hand. Would my manuscript come flinging back, or would I get a letter saying I’d sold it? Would an editor write, asking to see the rest of my book? Or a worse possibility--would I leave the mailbox with the sidewalk pulled out from under my feet—dragging myself back to the house in a haze of rejection?
At times I knew my fixation on the mailbox bordered on kinky.
But hey, e-mail has made unsavory fixations like mine a whole lot worse. These days it’s my computer screen I rush to embrace like a clandestine lover. I run to this being first thing in the morning, several times midday, and in the last moment of longing before bed. Will my screen yield what I want so desperately . . . an agent? Or even better, a publisher?
If you think I’m crazy, let me tell you about my friend whose book is agented, and now sent out to seven publishers. She goes to the grocery store with her cell phone clutched in her fingers. “I can hardly pick up more than one tomato,” she says, “or even an avocado, because I have this thing in my hand. Every few minutes I need to peek at my screen and see if anything came in. Like one tomato ago.”
She finally admitted that a mere few weeks earlier, her phone suffered a brief, e-mail-free breakdown. “It was a relief,” she said, “to have both hands usable. I could go to the grocery store and get my stuff in half the time. Of course during that week I was always rushing home again, tearing up the stairs to visit my computer.” She sighed. “You don’t know what it’s like to be emotionally tied like this—to a laptop lothario.”
“Oh, but I do,” I said. “Between me and my virtual lover, there’s this flight of stairs. I don’t gallop anywhere else, but I’m a lickety-split stair climber. As soon as I sit down, I become a dewey-eyed screen gazer, pouring my very soul onto this blue field with white letters, gazing at it with all the hope, all the eagerness I once bestowed on my teenage boy friends.”
Oh, Lord, I thought, my husband won’t like this. Or worse, he’ll think I’m nuts.
After this frank admission to the world I can see a problem arising in a somewhat bigger arena. Everybody will think I’m nuts.