New Year’s Eve, 2006.
Four months earlier, I had moved to a different state to attend graduate school, leaving behind my family, my church, and a particularly good friend in whom I was romantically interested.
It wasn’t a huge secret that I wanted this friend to be more than a friend, but I’d never outright confronted him with my feelings. I thought about him and missed him a lot after I moved, even though we weren’t really keeping in contact. When I went home for the holidays after my first trimester at grad school, he hosted a New Year’s Eve party. Our mutual friend/my bosom buddy, who had actually decided to move with me so we could have an adventure together, attended the party with me.
It was a classic New Year’s Eve shindig. Games. Snacks. The Ball Drop. (Sorry to bore you, but there was no alcohol.) I was happy to be with old friends, him in particular. And I decided I wasn’t going to let the night pass, wasn’t going to go back to school, without telling him how I felt. This was a big deal for me, the girl who didn’t speak to boys until she was sixteen and certainly never betrayed the fact that she was interested in any of them.
I was terrified.
My friend and I left the party sometime after midnight. We weren’t the last guests to leave, so I convinced her to wait with me until everyone else had gone. It was cold. We were tired. She fell asleep multiple times, God love her, and finally, as the digital clock in her pickup clicked past 3am, the last two people left.
It was time. In true romantic comedy fashion, I ignored my pounding heart, got out of the truck, marched up to the front door, and knocked. When he opened the door and saw me (this person who had allegedly left two hours ago), his eyes widened in surprise.
“Can I come in?”
I went inside, sat on his couch, and told him everything. And in absolutely, definitely NOT true romantic comedy fashion, he offered me an immediate (and brutal) rejection. It hurt. A lot. It was a strong and final no, and between that and the physical distance between us, our friendship also ended that night.
But I’m going to be honest. Even though it was a gut-wrenching moment, I am still incredibly proud of what I did. I am still incredibly thankful to my bestie for sitting in a truck in the middle of the night to wait for me to do the thing I needed to do. And the very best part of that night is, even though I closed a door, I never, ever had to wonder, “What if?”
I have zero regrets.
I try to look at querying like this. I’ve worked hard on a novel, revised it dozens of times based on feedback and intuition, and prepared a query package that (I hope) works. I’ve been through rejection approximately forty times, but I keep going back for more. My skin doesn’t get any tougher, I promise. Sending the query might dash my hope if it ends with a pass, but if I don’t send it, hope can’t be realized.
Just like that New Year’s Eve. If I don’t approach him after the party, I’ll never know what he might have said.
There’s no satisfaction in going halfway when chasing a dream. In twenty years, I don’t want to catch myself thinking, “Maybe if I’d sent just one more query…”
I hope my journey to publication will have a happy ending. And someday, maybe I’ll give this New Year’s Eve story a different ending when I write it into a romantic comedy.
But whatever happens, I’ll knock on every door and know I did everything I could to capture my dream.