Last winter, as my daughter and I spent another chilly afternoon lounging around indoors, Sunshine babbling and me responding as if she had spoken in actual sentences, I pictured all the conversations we might have when she was old enough to string more than two real words together. Naturally, I would have intelligent and well-informed answers to questions such as “Why does the wind blow?” and “Why is the sky blue?” and “What is blue, anyway? How did it get that way?” (Note to self: Do a little research. Knowing the right answers would be good.)

And then I imagined a question that truly stumped me: “Mommy, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why didn’t you do it?” What would I tell her? There’s no Wikipedia entry for that one. “Mommy wanted to be a writer,” I could say, “but she just never got around to it. You can be anything you want to be, though, sweetie. Really.” Hollow words from someone who had several completed manuscripts languishing, mostly unqueried, on her laptop, plus a few unwritten ones banging around inside her brain.

Obligatory signing-of-the-contract photo

This answer – entirely truthful and seriously lame – haunted me. Did I owe it to my daughter to follow my dream? Maybe. More importantly, I owed it to myself, my passion for writing, and my abandoned books.

The next afternoon, instead of spending Sunshine’s naptime doing laundry or reading a novel, I pulled my computer onto my lap and opened my most recent manuscript, a young adult paranormal romance I’d written several years before. After an exhaustive round of revisions I shipped it off to my phenomenal critique partner. She was nice enough to tear it apart before sending it back to me to put together again. My query letter – all three reincarnations – followed. Then I zapped it over to my friends Shari, Liz, and Heather for their (very helpful) opinions.

Finally I could stall no longer. I had to get my work out there.

I knew that, in the face of rejection, the temptation to quit querying would be strong, so I made a list of potential literary agents and vowed not to give up until I had emailed every last one. I didn’t get that far. I didn’t need to. Because after several tumultuous months, I am happy to say that last week I signed with an agent.

Although it’s not a guarantee that this book will sell, it’s one giant step closer to my being able to tell my daughter from personal experience, “Dream big. Because if you keep at it, you have a chance to make your dreams come true.” Here’s hoping that soon we will indeed make my publishing dream a reality, for this and future books. In the meantime, I have revisions to make, and a career to plan, and a new novel to write. Better get to it.