The Best of Times in the Worst of Times

29 Jul 2020

HI FRIENDS!

Wow, in my last post back in April, I started off with something like “ahhh so much has happened since I last updated in February!”…and likewise, ahhh so much has happened since I last updated in April! I have not been on my blogging game this year. To be fair, the Big Things That Happen are kind of isolated and spread out. 90% of my activity (or lack thereof) in these pandemic times would not make for good blog posts. “Hey y’all, finished another complete TV series over the course of a couple weeks. Started and abandoned a few coloring pages and thought about doing a cross stitch but couldn’t commit to a pattern. Read another dozen books that no one really wants me to describe in detail.” See? Boring.

But the month of July has had more excitement than I’ve seen in a while. Let us make like Maria Von Trapp and start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

For a lot of the summer, I’ve been—at the risk of throwing in too many musical theatre references in the course of two sentences—Leslie Odom Jr as Aaron Burr singing “Wait For It.” (This is my plug for you to go watch Hamilton on Disney+ if you haven’t yet. It is a TREASURE.) My first book was out on submission with editors, meaning it was out of my hands and I was just waiting to hear if anyone liked it enough to want to publish it. My library branch was still closed to the public and only started to take steps toward a phased reopening in June, when I went in for a one week rotation to pull materials that people put on hold for curbside pickup. But mostly, all I could do was sit at home, stay healthy and distanced from other people, find ways to stay busy, and wait—to be told someone wanted my book or not, to be told if I was going back to work more permanently any time soon or not.

I’m trying to think of another Hamilton or other Broadway show reference for the first of the two big events of this month, but they all feel entirely too dramatic, pun intended. In short, first I got laid off from my library job. All part-time staff were cut as a result of the pandemic, not select individuals or anything. I already wasn’t working for most of the time since the branches closed, and felt super lucky to get paid during that time. But I felt like I could still expect to go back eventually and ooooof did it hurt to find out that wouldn’t be the case.

I don’t want to get too ~emosh~ here because I’m so so fortunate and there are good things coming, but that day finding out about the lay-off was…pretty awful! And still doesn’t feel good. As the people closest to me (and maybe anyone who’s followed my blog for a couple years or more, hi) know, the job meant a lot to me. After a few tumultuous years including several consecutive work experiences that were varying degrees of anxiety-inducing and demoralizing, then a long-ish job search, the library felt like the biggest gift. It felt like finally landing on my feet. I loved the people, the work, I felt useful and hopeful and happy which I feared I wouldn’t find in a workplace. I know these are unprecedented times, the most extenuating of circumstances and everyone’s out here doing their best. I’m in a way luckier/more privileged spot than a lot of folks who’ve lost jobs. Still, it’s been hard, and I’m very very hopeful that I can go back when things return our new normal eventually is.

Pivoting away from the sad to the VERY HAPPY! So I got that job news on a Wednesday. Cried a lot, ruined the date night the boyfriend and I were about to go on. Struggled to fall asleep until 2-3 a.m. the next couple of nights. Then that Friday, waking up from my Weird Depression Sleep at about noon, I checked my phone and saw a brand new missed call, voicemail, and text from my agent, Laura. My heart stopped for a second, because in the case of many living the on-submission life, I knew this likely only meant one thing. I think the text was something like “GIRL CALL ME YOU HAVE AN OFFER,” and the voicemail was some very ecstatic expression of the same. I immediately called her and there was lots of over-the-phone squealing because we got an offer on my book!!!!!

The next week-ish was a blur of ~details~ and ~negotiations~ and ~other vague descriptions because does Kaitlyn even really understand what all agents and editors do? not really~…but by last Tuesday, it was official and the announcement came out in Publishers Weekly—my debut young adult novel LOVE FROM SCRATCH is being published by Delacorte Press in Spring 2022!!!

look at that lil turtlenecked bandit
look at that lil turtlenecked bandit

Holy emotional whiplash, Batman! I have to say, the immediate effect of the book deal was to cancel out my job loss sadness completely. Library who? Pandemic what? Have I ever felt an inkling of sadness in my life because I can’t remember if I have??? I’ve been celebrating gradually, with takeout dinners from my favorite restaurants, cakes—plural—gifted by multiple generous friends and family members, sparkly beverages a la Liquor Barn curbside pickup, and the purchase of a new writing chair since I’m, like, a professional now. I have mellowed out a bit since the initial shock and awe wore off—dealing with the unemployment insurance benefits system can do that to a gal l o l—but wow, I still can’t believe it. I definitely haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that in a year and a half-ish, there will be a real book of my words with my name on the cover in real bookstores and libraries and hands of strangers. I’m not sure that’ll feel real until the first physical copy is in my hands?? But knowing it will happen is heady stuff! Seriously a dream come true! I am so completely thrilled with how it all came about, and with truly amazing timing.

I believe I get to start revisions with my editor (!! who is amazing!) soon, which is so wild! I’m excited to get started and share more about the book-becoming-a-book process, as it’s all brand new to me. I think the biggest surprise to friends and family so far has been that spring ‘22 release date. Publishing is weird! So many steps along the way! It’s very rare for there to be any less than a year between book deal to book release. Right now, I feel grateful to have that much time and don’t want to wish any of it away. Maybe by then I’ll have figured out how to emotionally process the fact that my book is becoming a book? (“Kaitlyn who are you kidding you don’t process emotions at all,” says every therapist I’ve ever had.)

Whew, so that’s where we’re at, people! What a weird roller coaster July has been on its own, let alone the whole of 2020. I am reeling a bit from it all and worry this post doesn’t do justice to the many and varied emotions going on right now, but I mainly wanted to pop in with an update and reiterate that I’m so grateful for everyone who has helped me on this writing and life journey and reached out with encouragement and excitement at each step. I have some of the most supportive people in my life and don’t know what I did to deserve all of you. And I hope everyone is hanging in there! Wear your masks, keep distancing, help each other stay healthy. I have to believe this’ll get better eventually if enough of us take it seriously and keep doing our part. This concludes the pandemic motivational speech portion of the blog post.

Thanks for reading, and subscribing to my email list if that’s your thing, and being among my favorite people on this earth! Now let’s all go celebrate two of the other biggest events of the month by listening to The Chicks’ and Taylor Swift’s new albums <3

Xo,

Kaitlyn