Tales From the Underpublished

A couple of days ago, I bought a new outfit for Hawaii. I’ve never been to Hawaii. Royal blue golf shorts the color of those lagoon pictures you see in National Geographic. I have no specific plans to go to Hawaii. A white Annika Sorenstam top that slides on like a dream. I probably won’t go to Hawaii any time soon. Little matching golf socklets edged in that same lagoon blue as the shorts. I may never go at all. A beautiful golf outfit for Hawaii. I’m a horrid golfer.

Still, I was compelled. Helpless. “Those shorts are very slimming,” the salesclerk said as I twirled in front of the mirror, wondering why I was modeling an outfit for a sport I play poorly to wear to a place I wasn’t going. But she said the magic word. Slimming.

When I got home, bag in hand, wallet a great deal lighter, I announced to my husband that I’d just bought a beautiful golf outfit for Hawaii. “Good idea,” he said, enthusiasm filling his throat. My husband is brilliant. He knows to comment minimally when his wife has a sack of new clothes dangling in her hand. I know he’s toting up his next tit-for-tat purchase at Home Depot. We both smile. We’re both brilliant.

As I hung my new outfit in the closet, I began to form thoughts about how I was going to get myself from the dark of my closet all the way to the first tee on some Hawaiian Island course. I wandered into my office still contemplating the prospect.

It then occurred to me that having a vacation outfit in my closet wasn’t altogether different from having a couple of unpublished manuscripts in my desk drawer. Those shorts need to go to Hawaii, and my manuscripts need to get onto bookstore shelves. I may be underpublished and undertraveled, but I see no reason why those two events can’t occur, if not toot sweet, then at least within a reasonable time.

So it’s time to dust off the old manuscripts, spit on ’em and make ’em shine. Start Googling on Hawaii. Find those old query letters and make a new list of folks who I’m sure are breathlessly waiting for my stories. Find the travel section at the bookstore. Update those queries and fire up the printer. Pull out those slimming shorts now and then for inspiration. Carefully research who’s representing authors with similar tastes and politely knock on some new doors. Rummage through the pantry for that empty coffee can and start a Hawaii Fund. Stick stamps on SASEs and send out more letters.

Then sigh. And wait. And make a Pina Colada with a little paper umbrella.

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