It was February 2009 and pouring down rain. I’d spent the past three weeks feverishly working to revise a manuscript at an agent’s request. The agent wanted a hard copy of the whole revised book—and it was a hefty plus-one-hundred K.
I hurried through the downpour with my young children to a shipping store. I waited in line, then helped the employee wrap the manuscript, trying to keep all the pages in order, even though we had to split it in half to fit it in the box. And then I found out they wouldn’t send it without requiring a signature. Literary agencies do not like to have to sign for packages.
Frustrated, I turned to the dreaded post office, where I’d had lots of bad experiences with manuscripts, including raised eyebrows, pitying looks, and being told I had to send an entire manuscript at the letter rate.
This time, someone new was at the counter. Her smile was warm and genuine, her words quietly serious as she studied the bundle of papers and the address. “This is your book?”
“This is very important, isn’t it?”
I must’ve looked as anxious and deflated as I felt. The postal worker printed out a “Media mail” sticker, though others had told me I couldn’t use that rate for unbound paper. It wasn’t a book yet, they felt compelled to remind me.
This lady looked me right in the eye. “You must be very smart and talented.” She smiled at my kids. “You’re lucky to have such a Mom. She’s going to be very successful.”
Lady, if only you knew what the odds are against that, I started to think. But she was so sincere, and the kids nodded in agreement. The cynic in me melted, and I let her kind words do as they were intended—encourage, uplift.
Has a stranger ever encouraged you in your writing journey? How did you react?