It’s finals week.
bahahahah not for me, I’m done with that.
But being a writer professor gave me a bitch-slap of nostalgia and suck, and I couldn’t help but reminisce, badly and mostly while sipping a whiskey sour, about my finals weeks.
The ones where I was under-prepared, under-motivated, and over-caffeinated.
All-nighters, triple-shot espresso, sweats and highlighters. And, of course, that was always the week you a) found out the guy you were ‘talking to’ was ‘talking to’ another girl at the pool table in the student lounge, b) caught the viral plague, c) started your period, or d) all f***ing three at once.
But I when I would feel overwhelmed, I'd write that E.L. Doctorow quote on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere I could see it: "You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." It gave me comfort.
Now, I’m not in school anymore. I mean, not technically*
*Technically I am because I FA-HAILED my language exam for my MA in Lit and have to take it again. Le sigh. Can’t win them all. Or – no puedo win todos. SEE, I KNOW SPANISH.
Anyway. Even though I’m not in school, I still had one hell of a semester.
This will be a three-year long blog if I go in to detail, but here’s the short version:
We got a Border Collie/Lab mix named Molly. She’s adorable and Cricket is still getting used to her big little sister. Liam can now walk, and – oh – he can open up Molly’s kennel and eat all her dog food while sitting on her bed. Impressive and disgusting.
My grandmother passed away. That’s too painful to poke at, so if you’ll follow me, we’ll continue down the Gallery of Things That Happened Fall 2017.
I got a huge tattoo. I taught three college writing classes. I fell in love with Trollhunters, Stranger Things, and Shameless. I had a cool dinner with a cool person in LA and we talked about things I never thought I’d ever be talking about. I turned in revisions for my debut novel.
Oh, and we’ll pause here at some big news.
I signed another two-book deal!
This is where I insert my sister’s reaction when I told her this, which was to eye me suspiciously and ask through a mouthful of Chipotle: “I thought you already had a book deal?”
Yes, I do. I have a two-book deal with HarperCollins, but that’s different than this one. This one is super, super cool and with Penguin RandomHouse.
Earlier this year, my agent, manager and I decided to take another look at a book I’d set aside for a year while I focused on my debut. This book didn’t fit at Harper, and I was totally fine with that. But it still bopped around in the back of my mind, my characters tugging at my heartstrings every once in a while like… “hey, remember us?”
So Bri (kickass agent boss lady) and Scott (kickass manager extraordinaire) decided to take this book, then titled A HAUNT FOR JACKALS, out again to see if we could find it a home.
I cleaned it a bit, and then Bri sent it out on submission. I put it out of my mind as much as I could, because anyone who has ever been on sub knows how it feels to wonder if anyone is going to get this bloody little shard of your heart in their inbox and think it’s worth their time (and their house’s money).
Anyway. Six days later, I was teaching my writing class. They were in the middle of a writing exercise when my phone buzzed. I look down and it said “BRIANNE JOHNSON”.
And I sputtered out “hey guys I need you to give me a minute, okay?” and I ran to the door as fast as I could, because I had a boot on–
(–Oh right because I fell off my bike and flashed a bunch of freshmen boys on my way down and partially tore a ligament. That’d be bad enough, but I was already prepped from the humiliation of my first day where I a) taught the wrong class and then b) set off the fire alarm while saving a baby lizard. But that’s a blog for another time.)
“Don’t run on your boot, Professor!” someone yelled at me.
I was in the hallway outside my classroom when Bri told that PENGUIN wanted my little book about secrets. Not only one, either. They wanted a duology. They wanted me to finish telling the story I started back in 2015 while living in my parents’ kitchen.
I doubled over crying as she told me the details. Then I called my husband and my mom, because that’s what you do when your book finds a home. I turned around, tears streaming down my face, to see my students all pressed against the classroom window.
“My book sold!” I called out, and they erupted in cheers as I cried. They hugged me.
So 2019 is looking like a pretty busy year, you guys. My book from Harper and my book from Penguin will both hit the shelves… and then 2020 will also see two books releasing – one from Harper, and one from Penguin.
And that’s not all.
Back in 2016, I wrote a screenplay for a client, who also happens to be a Director at Apple. (Like as in Apple… like the thing you’re probably reading this on, right now.)
Earlier this year, we decided to go ahead on a joint project we’re referring to as “Darker Percy Jackson”. I’m writing that book, as well, and the website for the franchise will be launching soon.
I wonder what Finals Week Katie would think about this, now. I wonder what I’d tell her. Probably something like this – your headlights are good enough, girl. Especially when those headlights are Jesus.
He led me through living in a kitchen. Through post-partum depression while living in a kitchen. Through shitty internships where I was waking up at 4am to beat LA traffic and shitty internships where I was seen as a pair of boobs and not a writer like they’d promised I’d be and then shitty jobs where my soul was sucked out through my eyes and then back to a shitty internship where I doubted my ability to make a photocopy.
He led me here.
So my bebes who are doing finals week? Listen up. (You too, Becca. I know you’re reading this.)
You are enough. These exams are tough, but you’re tougher. Remember who leads you, and He’s not gonna let you fail. And this is coming from someone who wrote a joke about a duck on her math final.
You’re gonna get through. And you’re gonna find some fucking amazing things at the other end.