Surprises. I’ve been thinking a lot about surprises over the past couple of days.
Susan Spann, one of my comrades in the world’s most supportive group of authors (the fabulous Super Fly Writing Group or #SFWG) has set us all an assignment for blogging this week. The prompt? Surprises. Anything we want to say about surprises.
Hmm. You know, when I was a kid, the very word “surprise” made me happy. I loved getting surprises. Of course, nosy little brat that I was, it was pretty rare that I actually got surprised at Christmas or birthdays – I snooped and pried, and generally outfoxed anyone who thought they could keep a secret from me. Still, the reason I wanted my surprises out in the open is that they were so pleasant. I loved getting presents – and still do.
But as you get older, you stop caring so much about the surprise element. One of the sad facts of adult life is that surprises can be unpleasant just as much – or more often – than they are enjoyable. Whether it is the unexpected car repair bill or the jury summons, it seems like surprises aren’t that much fun any more.
But maybe that just makes it sweeter when you do get the odd unexpected happiness. This week I was bemoaning the distance from one day job payday to the next, when completely out of the blue, the DH called me.
“Hey,” he says. “Looks like you got something from your publisher.”
Now, of course, being me, my mind went to all the bad things it could be. They were writing to tell me they’d made a mistake publishing my book and they were suing me for tortuous imitation of a writer. They were closing up shop and running away to Tahiti with the all rights to my book, and I’d never be able to even read it again. Something awful.
But to allay my panic over what could possibly be wrong, I told DH to open it and read it to me.
Now that is particularly unhelpful. ‘Whoa, wow,’ what, precisely? Whoa, wow, they are taking away my credentials as a literate practitioner of the English language? What, for God’s sake?!?!?
Turns out it was a tidy little royalty check. Okay, no, neither La Nora nor the Divine J.K. will get confused and think it was meant for her – it ain’t anywhere near a living wage, particularly if you divide it out over all those hours I spent in the wee early hours, trying to get the Duke to apologize to Susan and not be an ass.
BUT (and like mine, it’s a big but) someone actually paid to read my story. Not just someone. Lots of someones. I know it has to be strangers, because I don’t have that many friends! Someone is seeing my book and thinking it looks good and actually buying it.
Now, like I said, most grown-up surprises do not inspire me to do a happy dance. But royalty checks – and the validation they represent – are a wonderful exception to that rule!