I was outside watering a few dry plants this evening when a kid rode up onto our lawn heading straight at me, with two runners in tow.
“Ain’t you that famous writer?” the bike rider said.
I laughed lightly. I remembered the 6th grade boy. He was selling candy a couple of months ago to help defray the costs from when his house burned down. I got to talking (back then) to his friend and him about a story I wrote a story about a 6th grade boy whose house burnt down. Ironic, I thought. Since I wasn’t sure they believed me, I ran back into the house and brought out the manuscript. (Writers sure can get desperate sometimes.) We read together the first paragraph, and their eyes got wide. See? I was telling the truth! My writerly spirit encouraged, I bought some candy bars from him, wondering deep down if it was really a hoax, but always liking to have friendly contact with neighborhood kids for several reasons. When that incident happened, I didn’t think I’d ever see the kid again. And here he was, riding on my lawn, showing off to his friends the famous writer he knew.
“I’m not famous,” I admitted. “But I do write. And at the moment, the story you just mentioned is out with an editor.” I wasn’t sure if they even knew what an editor did, but didn’t want to confuse them, or sound like a teacher.
“I want to read it,” said the Candy Bar Boy. The other two nodded.
“It takes time,” I told them. “Once the editor accepts the final copy of the story, it normally takes two or three years before it gets published into a book you can read.” This would be going through a traditional publishing house, of course, but again, I didn’t want to flood them with too much information, nor the fact that it could very well be rejected by several editors first.
“I’ll be in 10th grade by then,” said the older boy, counting on his fingers.
Again, I didn’t want to add other publishing housing rejections to the mix, but thinking about rejection slips, my pessimism escaped. “Yeah,” I said. “By then you probably won’t even remember me.”
“Oh, yes, we will,” they all three assured me. Maybe they knew what long waits and being sad was all about.
“We sure are thirsty,” hinted the one runner.
“I’ll get you some water,” I offered my potential future readers.
They quickly chugged down the glasses of water and were off to play basketball while it was still light. As they rode away, I heard the Candy Bar Boy say to his friends, “See? I told you I knew a famous writer!”