Monday, July 23, 2007

Going Postal -- The End is Near.

Ah, and yet this situation is not so forboding as one might think! I'm talking about the end of my novel, now in it's third and most important revision. As you know, I challenged myself to finish my current work in progress (and you to finish yours) before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows arrived in our mailboxes to distract us! Alas, I did not quite reach my goal - as I still have 3 chapters to go. But 3 chapters out of thirty is a drop in the bucket, and so I am thrilled with my progress and motivated to finish soon. While JK Rowling is bidding a sad farewell to Harry, Hermione and Ron, I on the other hand am thrilled to report that the end is also coming for me. The end of one phase, that is, and the beginning of another.

So Harry must wait in the box he came in until my book is in the mail.
One book coming in, one book going out. It's only fair. (No, no, don't tell me who dies in Deathly Hallows, I want to read it for myself! Stupify!) But unlike Rowling's, my "end" is a happy window on a new beginning. The mailing phase!

The mailing phase is so exciting -- especially with the somewhat-recent glorious invention of media mail! Not long ago I had a life-altering media-mail experience. I took one of my stories to the post office stuffed in it's customary yellow manilla envelope, and addressed to the appropriate literary professional. I stood in line, feeling awkward as I always do -- scrunched between people on all sides carrying packages - birthday presents, business documents, illegal terroristic devices (Yikes, I hope not!)... And of course all of us in the line watched as each one reached the cordoned-off front spot and was called forward by the overworked, and frankly rather gruff postal ladies, the guardian's of packages sent by peasants and princes alike. The college student's package went via the cheapest way to Chile; The business man's went overnight-priority to New York. And the postal ladies enforced the rules for each mailing with absolute, unflinching precision.

Then it was my turn, and certain that the whole world was watching I stumbled forward, placed my package on the desk and half-whispered, half-sqeeked, "I need to send this to California, please. It's...just paper..." She looked at me. "Is it media?" I glanced at the package with uncertainty. Dare I claim to be media? "Well, yes, I guess it is media - you could call it that," I faltered, looking down, unsure. She squinted at me. "Well, what is it?" My knees buckled, and I leaned in closer to her -- not because I felt safer there, but because I hoped desperately that the people behind me in line would not hear me say it, and would therefore not know that I was a"wanna-be" masquerading as something I am not. "It, um, it's a...well, it's just a manuscript," I whispered, in a voice only a mouse could hear.

And suddenly everything changed...soft music began to play... she looked at me, and in her eyes I saw that look of shocked admiration one would give to Shakespeare, or Nora Roberts, or J.K. Rowling if you happened upon them in the mall; that confused but intrigued questioning stare that says "Are you an artist? Should I know you? Should I get your autograph now and hold onto if for later?" But then she remembered we were still in the post office, and with a smile she placed the package in the shipping box with two-handed care. "Why, of course, a manuscript - that's media mail," she said firmly. I nodded at her, feeling 2oo-times braver then before, and suddenly hoping that my glasses were not askew and my hair looked all right. "Great, thank you," I said with a you-ought-to-know-me smile. "I really, truly LOVE media mail."