Writer in Line at the Post Office: a guest post by Don Rearden

A few weeks ago, while I stood in line at our local post office, I couldn’t help but weigh the significance of the moment. I’d waited in line at post offices all over Alaska, but never before did I hold a yellow slip with so much weight to it. This moment was different from those times of waiting to pick a bush order of food or an Amazon order of books and CD’s. This moment also differed from those other rare occasions when I’d be waiting in line to send off a manuscript or screenplay to someone far away that insisted on a paper copy over a digital draft.

This was one of those moments in the line at the post office that I hadn’t heard other writers discuss and I hadn’t given much thought about how emotional or powerful such a moment could be. Heck, this was even bigger than my memory of standing at the door of the little old postal shack in Akiak while waiting for Mrs. Jackson to hand me a box of Sees chocolates and other treasures not available in the village my grandparents had shipped up to us from Montana.

The shipper’s name on the yellow slip read: Canada.

Inside the parcel would be advanced readers copies (or as I’ve learned they call them ARCS in the business) of my novel The Raven’s Gift a book that I’ve spent the last three years of my life working on and the other thirty-three years of my life dreaming about the day I would hold my first book.

The line was beyond glacial, but I’m a patient person. I’d waited my life for this moment. I could wait a bit longer.

When the postal worker waived me forward I stepped up to the counter with gusto. In minutes I would be out in my car tearing open the box and finally getting to hold a real life copy of my novel. Would I cry? Would I shout? Would I do a little dance, right there in the parking lot?

Strange thoughts followed those questions.

I thought about the work ahead. Who would I send the copies to? How would I secure some great blurbs? I worried. I fretted. What if people don’t get it? What if readers didn’t like the characters or the story? What will readers think about me? Worse yet, what if no one reads the darn thing?

The postal worker returned empty handed. “The package is still with the carrier,” she said, “you’ll have to come back tomorrow.”

I thought about Seth’s Kantner’s essay in Shopping For Porcupine where the Inupiaq postman delivers bad news with two short words, “Too Bat!” (Too bad!)

Stunned, I had no response. I took my yellow slip back and shuffled out of the post office like a sad little boy with no mail from his grandparents. No dancing. No crying. No transformative literary moment.

I’d waited my life for that moment, and I had no choice but to wait a bit longer.

1 thought on “Writer in Line at the Post Office: a guest post by Don Rearden”

  1. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    You had to wait but we don't — there's that great cover and intriguing title for all of us to see! How exciting, Don. A big congrats to you!

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