My children have been asking for a dog since they learned how to speak. It’s a subject that comes up almost daily. They watch dog training shows on TV. They do research. Knowing my reluctance toward canine companionship, they even presented a paper on the least offensive breed—the one least likely to bark, shed or slobber. I think it was a Labradoodle. “How about a stuffed one?” I said.
One day several months ago, right after my agent passed along a rejection letter from an editor whom I thought was going to make an offer on my manuscript, my children once again fired up their campaign.
“You had a dog when you were young, Mom,” they said. “It’s not fair.”
“But you already have a cat,” I tell them. “And besides, if we get a dog, then who’s going to end up taking care of it? Me. The same person who took care of the fish and the hamsters. The same person who takes care of the other animals in this house—and I don’t just mean Midnight.”
“Please, Mom.” They looked miserable. My son did this thing I call The Begging Face.
I sighed. I was sad about the rejection, my defenses were weakened. “Maybe.”
“Really?” Their expressions were exultant. “When?”
I chose a date that I believed would never come. “When my book gets published.”
Not long after, I started reworking the manuscript based on input from another editor. She had some terrific insight and specific suggestions about how to tighten the narrative around a clear, concise “hook.” My other draft was good, she said, but it wouldn’t be easy to pitch to booksellers or book buyers. So with her encouragement, I started again.
One night while I was working, my son climbed into my lap. “I can help you write your book, Mom. Then you’ll get finished faster and we can get the dog.”
“We won’t get the dog until it gets published, though.”
“I know,” he said. “So you need to hurry.”
His contribution didn’t make it into the final draft, but even without it, my agent called yesterday to say how much she loved the new iteration. She’s forwarding it to the editor today. And while there are no assurances that she’s going to buy it, it suddenly feels like the kids are a little closer to getting their dog.
MORAL: Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it. 🙂