Monday, July 19, 2010

"I'll be happy when..."

I learned to read when I was three. I nagged my older sister into bringing books home from school for me to devour.

Perhaps my passion for literature stems from the fact I was raised in isolation on a dirt farm on Alberta’s prairies. There were no televisions, telephones, iPhones, iPods/Pads, or playschools. In fact, there was no electricity. I quickly discovered that books were at least as entertaining as trapping gophers, petting piglets, and building tree forts. Their exciting worlds and colourful people deepened my life and stirred my imagination. It was about then that I decided I would write books.

As I aged, I discovered that writing wasn’t a lucrative career but rather something one must have money to do—a profession somewhat like farming. But, like farming, I decided, these difficulties could be overcome if one possessed a passion for the craft.

“Please, God,” I prayed as education, various paying careers, a marriage, and three children sucked away the years. “If you just help me find the finances to write a book, I will be happy forever. I promise.”

There were small writing successes—a children’s short story, a magazine article, a Journalism diploma. I managed to wangle a few years as a small-town reporter and a newspaper editor. My life took me through a dozen moves and through the decades many half-written books, sketchy stories, diaries, poems, and letters were packed away and forgotten.

The muses, however, never let me forget my passion. “Please, God,” they prayed with me. “Give Eileen the time, the energy, the money, the space to write and she’ll be happy forever. We promise.”

When my youngest turned 25, when the family business finally became self-supporting, when an able secretary finally took my place behind my desk and in front of the phone, I announced to my family and my world, that I, Eileen Schuh, was going to make her childhood dream come true.

Fifty years of pent up stories spewed forth. Words, phrases, settings, characters, and plots. Sunsets, autumn leaves, and azure skies. Page after page. Chapter after chapter. Sequel after sequel. I was writing.

“Please, God,” I prayed as my queries netted rejection after rejection. “If you just help me get one of my books published, I’ll be happy forever. I promise.”

A story resurfaced that had germinated during the time when I was mothering three toddlers. I transcribed it from my mind to my computer. I re-read, researched, re-wrote, and revised. I acquired a Book Marketing Coach--Cheryl K Tardif--and with her able help, I created a cyberspace presence. I learned to Tweet. I established a blog and a website. I joined writers’ groups and forums. I researched publishers and agents. I attended writers’ conferences.

I hesitantly sent out queries to publishers. “Are you interested,” I asked, “in a psychological crime thriller that spans two universes?” Two of the three publishers I emailed it to, rejected it within weeks. Thirteen months later I flicked on my computer, played solitaire until the internet connected, and then opened my yahoo email account and clicked on my first message:

“Eileen,
Sorry for the delay. I’m finally getting caught up and I’m pleased to let you know that I would like to accept Schrödinger's Cat for publication by WolfSinger Publications in 2011….

Attached is a
contract.... I look forward to working with you….”

I stared at my monitor. My story would be a book in 2011…a book, with my name on. An ebook as well as a print book—“Schrödinger’s Cat” by Eileen Schuh.

I stared at the surreal email. I made a coffee and ate a candy. I paced. There were tiny little tears. Though I had met many along the way, this journey to fulfill a life-long dream had in essence been a solo journey. In like form, I relished the solitary celebration and savoured my success in quietude.

Not until hours later, when my husband arrived home from work, did I share the news. He looked proud.

I intended my son, Christopher, to be the next one I’d tell. I grabbed his passport from my safe and raced to town. He’d bought a motorcycle and was planning to cross the border on a business road trip to Reno.

I sat across from him in his office and hesitantly laid his passport on the desk. He still had the golden curls and blue eyes with which he’d been born. His warm smile was very familiar. As was his dimple. His chuckle. His grin.

“When are you leaving?” I asked. “When will you be back? Will you have your cell phone? Watch for other drivers. Don’t get lost. Call me.”

He printed his itinerary, scribbled phone numbers on the back. Smiled. He was happy. Excited. He didn’t want me to ruin it by worrying.

I stood to leave. “Drive slow. Watch for deer. Have fun. Call me.” I plodded back to my car, turn the ignition key, and whisper a prayer. “God, keep him safe.”

When I got home, I realized that I forgot to tell Christopher that I’m about to become a published author. I sent him an email.

The next day hubby and I went to our cabin. Our friends invited us next door for the evening. As we walked the path through the budding Saskatoon bushes, I rehearsed my announcement and anticipated their response. I accepted a beer and took a chair by their campfire.

We talked about the long and happy summer days of the not-so-long-ago—when we were younger, our kids were toddlers, and our parents still shared our lives. It was past midnight but the summer solstice twilight was still brushing orange across the western sky when we headed back to our cabin. I looked up at the distant, faint stars. Was heaven up there? “Dear God, please hold those we once touched and loved close to your heart.”

Not until I was in bed did I realize I’d forgotten to tell the neighbours that I was about to become a published author. For how many years had I longed for this moment? “Dear God, I’ll be happy when...” Here I was, with that when present, and suddenly so much other stuff seemed so much more important.

There are many morals to this story. However, the most important lesson I learned is that happiness isn’t derived from outer circumstances but rather bubbles up from within. Do not wait for happiness—reach out and grab it. Create it. Coddle it. Embrace it. Find it in many places.

Have many goals. Many successes. Many people in your life.

Never give up on your dreams.
Be passionate about your pursuits.
Live a full and busy life.

"Schrödinger’s Cat," an adult sci-fi novella will be published in 2011.

Chordelia finds herself straddling two of the alternate realities proposed in Everett’s Many Worlds Theory of Quantum Physics.

The emotional toll of living two diverse lives proves too much. She must decide if she is willing to sacrifice the chance to be with her dying child in order to save her marriage in the other universe.

She thinks she’s planned it well—she’s researched her choices, prepared herself for the consequences, put everything in place. She makes her decision. However....

Life, as it has the propensity to do, strikes back with the dark and unexpected.

WolfSinger Publications, out of Security, Colorado, USA, is a micro-press company that publishes short novels. Their print books are available through online retailers such as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Borders.com and their ebooks are available from places like Amazon.com (Kindle), Apple (iPad), Kobo and Barnes & Noble.com, Smashwords.com and other ebook
retailers.

Wofsinger offered contracts on 11 books for 2011.

Wolfsinger is also the parent for two on-line magazines:
The Lorelei Signal http://www.loreleisignal.com/
and Sorcerous Signals http://www.sorceroussignals.com/
as well as the print compilation of both - Mystic Signals.

They have a FaceBook page and a website
http://www.wolfsingerpubs.com/


Eileen Schuh,Canadian Author
"Schrödinger’s Cat"
http://www.eileenschuh.com/

5 comments:

Cheryl Kaye Tardif said...

I love this story of your journey, Eileen! And I am SOOOO happy for you. You've worked so hard to get where you are and I know you'll continue to work hard. Wolfsinger is lucky to have you as one of their authors.

And nothing makes me grin like an idiot than seeing one of my clients realize success like this. :-) Congratu-freakin-lations!

Cheryl

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thanks, Cheryl. You the Best!

Congratu-freakin-lations? You are better than Sarah Palin at coining words. http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2010/07/19/14755656.html

Sheron Parris said...

Your story is so inspirational to me, as someone who's been writing all her young life and is wishing, and praying for that big break. I'm so happy for you to have your big soon to be in print. That's...it's AMAZING.
I wish you the best!
=]

Eileen Schuh: said...

Thanks, Sheron. Keep living and honing your craft, and networking. Enjoy the journey.

Renita said...

Very nice blog post mom! We are also super proud of you! As you supported us in our various dreams as kids, it is nice to see your own start to come true.