It was in Target, in the women’s clothing section—the teen section, actually, directly adjacent to the designer capsule collection display. I remember this very vividly. There was a cardigan that I thought was very charming. My phone was in my hand, and I heard the email tone chime. I pulled up my inbox and there was an email from my agent. The preview said “HOORAY JE…” my heart spasmed, pulled free, spun a loop, hung suspended for endless moments while I waited for the whole email to load. And I read, “HOORAY JEN.” And some stuff about checking with other editors. And it took me a moment to scroll down to the part where the editor said, “We do want to make an offer.”
I read that again. “We do want to make an offer.” I read it again. It still said, “We do want to make an offer.” I thought, “Oh. Oh, my memoir. My memoir is being purchased. My memoir is being purchased by a publisher I admire. My memoir is being published by a publisher I admire and I—” stopped thinking, because I had fallen down. I was on my knees, in the middle of the teen’s clothing section of target, and I had dropped my phone into the little shopping basket I had been carrying over my arm, and I was sobbing. Shaking. Having trouble breathing. Realizing my sobs were audible and maybe I shouldn’t be gasping for air and howling on the floor of the Target women’s clothing section with my face on the carpet and my arms wrapped around my shopping basket.
“Oh my god,” a woman said, and I looked up. A Target employee, terrified that she was watching someone die in a terrible way. She said, “Are you—are you okay? What’s wrong, are you okay?”
My face contorted into a horrible rictus grin and my skin was tight and my eyes felt like huge skinned grapes and I gasped, “I’m—I’M SO HAPPY!”
She disappeared back around the rack of cardigans and I sobbed a little more quietly until I realized that the carpet of the Target women’s section was no place to be sprawled out overcome with emotional emotions.
I dragged myself up and I staggered around the halls of Target, wide-eyed and full of a feeling I couldn’t identify—terrorjoy? Happyfear? BLINDENTHSUSIASTICPANIC. I started calling people and I couldn’t stop crying (“I’M SO HAPPY!”) or shouting, and I thought maybe I should leave Target before they called the police.
Ten more minutes I cried in the car, before I managed to drag myself home.
And that is the story about how I learned that my childhood dream—my lifelong dream. My only real, true dream except the one about lasering my name on the moon—had come true.
Sometimes it felt like it took far too long—why am I so old before I have a book come out, when all I’ve ever wanted to do was be a writer? Sometimes I can’t believe I’m as incredibly lucky as I was and am, and that it was too easy and what’s the catch. Most of the time I can’t believe I have a book coming out.
I always thought that if I ever published a book it would be An Important Literary Work of Fiction. Somehow, I’m publishing an incredibly personal memoir that I hope talks about important issues surrounding body image. Someday I’ll publish novels. Young adult, or literary fiction, or science fiction or non-fiction or anything. I want to write. I hope people like what I write and want to read it. I’ll keep writing whatever happens—but you know this is a hell of a kick in the pants.
You guys, I have a book coming out! The cover is beautiful and my editor and publisher are utterly amazing and my agents are awesome and I am so very lucky and happy. It’s coming out February 2013. You can pre-order it if you like! An e-book edition is coming soon! And every day I go look at my page on amazon and think, holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap! Amen.