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Life is what happens

I just got back from watching Julie & Julia––a great new movie about Julie Childs and Julie Powell, her blogging/publishing counterpart. At the risk of having to forfeit my Man Card, I must to admit––I absolutely loved it. (But you’re talking to a guy whose favorite film is probably Searching for Bobby Fischer, so I’m a bit more sensitive than the average bear).

Especially because part of the film deals with the travails and triumphs one encounters when puddle-jumping their way through the publishing world. And wow––It brought back so many simple, joyful, and surreal memories––moments that are tragically easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of everyday living. Or as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

So, lest I forget, here are a few of those life moments:

  • Registering www.jamieford.com, two years before I’d finished my first book, with nothing but my father’s relentless work ethic and my mother’s dream of writing. The last meaningful thing I’d written before that, were their eulogies.

  • Having a total stranger read my flash fiction online and email words of praise, encouraging me to reach for the brass ring, proving that random acts of kindness indeed have a place in the world. (Thanks Gin, as always).

  • Winning the first fiction contest at Clarity of Night, hosted by Jason Evans. A story about a pregnant woman, morning sickness, and the smells of Thanksgiving.

  • Hearing Orson Scott Card tell me, “You should send your story to the New Yorker, they normally print crap, but they don’t always print crap, so you might have a chance.” It took a moment before I realized that was a compliment.

  • Ordering dim sum in Seattle and pouring cups of tea for Henry and Keiko. Method writing or schizophrenic moment, you decide.

  • Getting that first call from an agent offering representation. Then another. And another.

  • Stepping off the elevator at Random House, walking into the boardroom and meeting my team.

  • Leaning that, “Lisa See is reading your manuscript and enjoying it.”

  • Getting an email from Garth Stein the night before HOTEL went on sale. It read, “Welcome to the Thunder Dome, my friend.”

  • Waking up in a hotel in Milwaukee, while on book tour and having 17 voicemail messages––something about the New York Times…

  • Writing this blog entry, looking back, and enjoying the view.

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Reader Comments (15)

Well, I certainly hope to follow such steps. Maybe not the same path, but a similar destination. Your words inspire hope.
August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Cormier
I thought I was the only person who saw the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer.

What a lovely list. And congrats.
August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara J. Henry
Yeah...but did you cry during the 2009 "Star Trek" movie? TWICE?
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdavid
Nah, I cried at the end of Wrath of Khan. And probably cried in disgust at whatever Star Trek that was that Shatner directed...
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
"Hearing Orson Scott Card tell me, “You should send your story to the New Yorker, they normally print crap, but they don’t always print crap, so you might have a chance.” It took a moment before I realized that was a compliment."

LOL priceless!

Congrats on this retrospective. I can't wait to do it myself.

Also, you're the second person (and writer specifically) who said they liked this movie, so even though I think the trailers don't make it look very appealing, I think I'm going to have to check it out.
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristan
Wow, I hope someday I'll have retrospective moments like this :)

I'd probably be hysterical if Lisa See read my book and enjoyed it--she's one of my favorite authors.
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDara
Hey! What's so unmanly about Searching for Bobby Fischer?!?! Now if you had said Amelie (which was also fantastic) THEN you could claim an un-manly movie, but I thought Searching for Bobby Fischer was just good, not feminine.

Tis a good list of moments. One can not say that Scott is a man without opinions, and hopefully your publishing experience hasn't involved a crazed Tina Turner.

(incidentally, my wife who is normally a fan of quintessential "chic flicks" counts Armageddon as one of her favorite movies... of course it was because it made her cry, but still, closest to liking anything sci-fi/fantasy she comes).
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharlesP
Thanks for recounting your journey with us Jamie. Congrats on all your success. It's clear that you continue to be thrilled by the entire process.
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Katzenberger
Wow. What a list of incredible memories. I'm quite envious and inspired all at the same time. Thanks for sharing with us, Jamie.
August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEric Stallsworth
Charles--I'm more partial to Deep Impact than Armagedon...
August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
Dear Jamie, it does sound pretty great. :)
August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChaya Bhuvaneswar
Well, DUH - every guy (and some gals) cried at the end of TWOK. But it takes a REAL man to also cry in ST 3: TSFS, both when David is murdered by the Klingon bastards, and when the Enterprise is destroyed.

Oh, and in ST 7: Generations, when Kirk dies. OK, so the tears were half for Kirk, and half at the silliness, but they were still tears, dammit.
August 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdavid
I cried for Shatner's hairpiece...
August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
This won't be very literary but it's meant...

You're my hero. You deserve ALL the good stuff. :)
August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Woodhead
If you like the movie Julie and Julia, you'll probably love the book - she's amazing.

Great list, Jamie!
August 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaia Sepp

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