608 days ago I submitted a manuscript to Kate Duffy. I was one of the finalists in the Kensington Brava novella contest, and she’d asked to see the story. All this time, I’d been waiting and wondering what was going on with the story, then this past week, Kate Duffy passed away from complications due to cancer.
To say I was floored is putting it mildly. For the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking how easy it is to forget that editors and publishers have actual lives they’re living just like I do. They aren’t just eating, sleeping and breathing in order to read and acquire manuscripts. How did I forget that in the first place?
It’s not like I don’t do a lot of other things too–I have a day job. I have a kid to raise and a husband who on any given day is raising me. I’ve got a house to take care of, which I do with varying degrees of success. I’ve got friends–I keep finding people I haven’t talked to in decades (on Facebook). I have extended family. My sister, in fact, struggled all year with breast cancer along with three other members of my family. To say that the annual visit for my mammogram is a little frightening would be putting it mildly. (On a side note, sis called yesterday to tell me that she’d bought a new T-shirt. It read, “Yeah, they’re fake. My real ones tried to kill me.”)
That’s my life. Yet, every day, I catch myself in some situation and find I’m mentally rearranging that situation to turn it into an interesting novel plot. How weird is that? When did I get life and novels mixed together? Life isn’t a novel. Novels are wonderful, amazing things, but they are still just words on the page. Life is something else altogether. I joke with my writer buddies that life “is all novel fodder”, but I’m not sure I know what it is. I’m not sure I have a good handle on what life is at all.
Kate actually called to tell me I was a finalist in the contest. I wish I could remember exactly what she said. All I do remember thinking is, “That’s a no-nonsense woman who knows her business.” She touched a lot of lives with her love for books. She touched mine.