For just over a decade I raised sheep, and my favourite part of raising sheep was lambing. I loved seeing each new lamb born, finding out whether it was a ewe or a ram, and seeing the colour. I loved my brown sheep, and bred specifically for that colour.
Before that thrilling revelation, though, there were months of suspense. Had the ewe been settled (bred) successfully? Had we done a good job with the flushing, the gradually increasing grain ration that was supposed to make the ewe produce twins or triplets? As the ewes got larger and larger and that magical five-month gestation period got shorter and shorter, the suspense of wondering when lambing would begin became almost unbearable.
Sometimes there were no brown lambs. That was a disappointment, but there was always next year, and another lambing, even if it meant having to go through all the suspense again.
Lately I’m having that waiting-for-lambing feeling. I made my deadline on The Swan Harp, and I heard from the agent that she was beginning to read manuscripts again, starting with mine. That email was three weeks ago, and I’m having a hard time with the suspense.
Look, I know that agents have busy days – meetings, contracts, phone calls, authors that they’ve already taken on. They have work to do – they’re not just sitting around waiting for manuscripts to read. I didn’t expect her to race through The Swan Harp in one day, or even one week, and get right back to me. I also know, from the correspondence I’ve already had with her, that she’s thoughtful and careful when she writes to authors, and is capable of putting an email aside, thinking about it and rewriting it before she sends it.
I know that she’s told me she was looking forward to the rewrite, that she really wanted to see it. I also know that I did a good job, and that the story is better than it was.
I know she has to answer sometime, because I know from dealing with her that she won’t just leave me hanging. I know this the way I knew that those ewes absolutely had to lamb sometime, even if the lambs were all white.
There’s a little worrywart voice inside of me, fretting away. “Why is it taking so long? What if she hates it?”
Well, what if she does? I’ll be disappointed, of course, but I’ll thank her for her time and consideration. I’ll probably have some chocolate. In fact, I’ll probably have quite a lot of chocolate, and maybe some wine, as well.
And then I’ll start again. Somewhere, sometime, I’ll get that brown lamb.