At Simon & Schuster's headquarters along Avenue of the Americas in New York.
In French language software: TeLL me More French
-- Used everyday in more than 10,000 academic institutions:
un rédacteur (ray-dak-ter) noun, masculine
A female editor is called "une rédactrice" (ray-dak-treece)
At the Simon & Schuster building in Rockefeller center, I set my wallet, breath mints, and map of New York on the comptoir* that separated me from the security guard, and paused to dry my brow with the help of a scratchy wool sleeve. After so much purse rummaging, I was unable to produce a photo ID and realized with a sunken heart that I'd left my passport back at my belle-famille's* apartment.
The security guard frowned.
"But she's expecting me!" I said, in a panic. Desperate to see the editor with whom I had an appointment, I offered my credit card, the only thing on my person with a printed name, and watched as the guard ran it through a two cylinder reader. Later, the editor-in-question would joke that someone would surely be enjoying a fine pre-Christmas spree in New York City, compliments of me.
The editor's humor calmed my nerves, and while the idea of an emptied bank account is not pleasant, it reminded me of my purpose: to try to secure a new book contract.
There we were, the rédactrice* of my last book* and I, at Bar Americain on 6th avenue enjoying deep-dish chocolate cream pie after I'd made it past security to tour the legendary publishing house. Walking through its halls, viewing all the neatly framed book covers, felt surreal. Every since I was a child, I've dreamed of becoming a writer. I remember sitting in front of the television in our single wide trailer hearing a reference to Simon & Schuster on the PBS channel; and now, here I sat, thirty years later and six months into publication of my first book, facing an S&S editor.
Through tortoise-shell glasses, my former editor looked at me thoughtfully.
"Pat yourself on the back," she said, of the book we'd worked on together. "Enjoy your accomplishment."
"But what if this is a "one off" and I never write another book?" I worried.
"Take your time," she reminded. "There is no rush."
I thought about my current situation. Two pre-adolescent children in need of love and support, realtors and potential buyers trawling our home, an upcoming move to a skeleton home (half of which is without plumbing and electricity), 30,000 vines to prune, building permit soucis*--surely THAT will "take my time".
So much commotion. I suddenly feel out of my mind. Walking into that rendez-vous on a mission to walk out with another boulder on my back--a contract for a 300 page manuscript with a due date looming over my head--was like clinging to the bow of a sinking ship.
Then again, writing may just be my lifeline.
* * *
Post note: Though I did not walk out of Bar Americain with a book contract, I did receive boulder-size support from a caring editor, along with a publisher's request for a first chapter.
References: le comptoir (m) = counter; la belle-famille (f) = family-in-law; la rédactrice (f) = editor; book = Words in a French Life; le soucis (m) = worry
Listen to Jean-Marc recite today's quote: Download redacteur.wav
Comme l'apprend vite tout bon rédacteur, c'est justement ce qui est évident qui doit être souligné - sinon on passera à côté.
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