Last Friday, I walked into the post office of a nearby town. I drove eight extra miles to reach this destination, not because I hold any grudges against my local post office, but because I've had very good relations with this particular office in the past. And I was on an important mission: today I was mailing my baby.
That's right. My baby. I've labored over it for four years, attempted to weed out as many adverbs as possible along with every insignificant sentence. I've tossed out entire chapters. I've had to say goodbye to characters I loved, and put other characters through torture.
And now it was finished, and someone of importance in the publishing industry had requested to see the entire 300-plus pages, hard copy. Lord, help me.
When I walked into that post office, I cradled my manuscript--crisp, white pages showcasing sharp, clean-edged ink. Not a wrinkle or smudge, not a fold in sight. Perfect.
I just had one little problem. The large envelope that held the pages was a tad too big. I'd been told by a published author that envelopes are preferred over boxes, and I took that advice to heart. Only now, I wondered if my manuscript would suffer in route to its destination.
When I asked the man behind the postal counter for his expert advice, he took a peek into my unsealed package. "It's just paper, right?"
"Well, it's a manuscript," I answered.
He slid the entire 350 pages from the envelope and flipped them upside down, showing them the same courtesy he would a freshly-caught bass. It suddenly felt very warm in that spacious office.
"This'll probably work." He reached for a much smaller, cardboard envelope and shoved my four years of work into the package. Three-quarters of the pages still stuck out. They called to me for help.
I reached out a tentative hand to smooth a slightly dog-eared page. Maybe I'd start crying. "Be--be careful. It's my baby."
He looked at me as if I had something stronger than water in my L.L. Bean canteen. "I've done this before, you know."
I wanted to ask him if any other manuscripts he'd sent saw publication. Probably not.
Next, he took another small envelope and slid it over the exposed side of the manuscript. The cardboard started to tear. Very professional looking, you know.
He slipped the entire sorry-looking package into the big envelope and slapped the seal closed. I said a little prayer for my baby--that it would make it safely without much damage, that the person unpackaging it hadn't just spilled coffee on her best suit, or slammed her toe against the corner of her desk. Surely an unprofessionally packaged manuscript would put her over the edge, and effectively put me on her bad side.
Or maybe--just maybe--the postal worker had been like an angel, guarding my baby from sliding to and fro within that spacious envelope. I may never know. What's done is done, and the only thing I could do was lift a prayer to my Comforter.
Please God, be with these pages. May they find their purpose--even if that doesn't include publication.
Not an easy prayer to say from my heart, but I'm convinced it was sincere. And so, into His capable hands, I entrust my manuscript.