There's a time in every writer's life where you're facing what might be your big break. Mine happened when I was working as a Congressional Fellow for Senator Kennedy in the late 1980's. His deputy press person told me about a friend of hers who was an agent with the William Morris Agency. Ah. And for most of my life, people had been telling me to write that book of all books about what it really was like being deaf in a hearing world, or trying to be deaf in the deaf world, or trying not to be deaf at all when the deafness just made communication that much harder. Despite spending a lifetime feeling I didn't have the personality to be deaf, it had happened to me. So I decided I would do it, finally. I even settled on a title - ANOTHER SIDE OF SILENCE. Even though I was working in the Senate 8 hours daily, and also working full-time in a Federal agency just down the hill from the Russell Senate Office Building, and weekends at United Press International, and at the National Zoo doing Behavior Watch (of red pandas at the time!), I thought I could do this! Did I mention playing on the Congressional softball league-the Ted Sox? Or freelance photographing around Washington DC? Ah! The energy of young yuppies! And I really believed things were going to happen, this was fated--my getting this book out and changing the world's perspectives on people who are deaf, and about me! I decided this would be a novel and then I could intertwine my deaf friend's stories and experiences, too, and could go beyond to hit the points home. The protagonist would be pseudo me. I contacted the William Morris agent in a fax and told him about the book. The deputy press person also told him about me, as I'd been writing on foreign policy and she knew my work well. The agent contacted me. He wanted to see the manuscript. That's when the butterflies started, the night sweats... that's when the first huge niggle of doubt settled in. Manuscript? What manuscript? I was marketing my idea, but he obviously was interested in the hard copy, the actual story. Ah. So I agreed. I would send him the manuscript, not whispering a word that I hadn't started writing it yet. And I began writing, instead of taking a lunch break, and inbetween assignments, and jotting down more ideas and notes in the sidelines next to the behavior of the red pandas! I began functioning on about 2 hours sleep, so I could write when I got home at midnight and before I had to start the whole work routine at 6 a.m. It took me almost two weeks, and several calls from the agent wondering where the manuscript was, before I got him something. I'd also had my friends in Boston reviewing the rough drafts via fax and they seemed to like it. But it was not my best work, and I knew that, but remember that sense of fate like it was my big break? It was finally happening? That's why, even though this man read my rudimentary rambling work, and wrote out a lot of suggestions to make it publishable, and encouraged that there was real talent and if I could follow his suggestions and rework it all and get it back to him, he would take another look. At that time, in that situation, this was complete rejection for me. I could not get past that. The manuscript itself made me feel embarrassed to look at it. I felt I had lost my big chance, my big break, had broken my karma. And I was still deaf. I was still working more hours than I ever could again in my life and most of all, I realized I could not change the world. So I put it away, and never took it out again. The agent at William Morris actually retired last fall. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I had truly applied myself and redone what I'd started and done it right? I also wonder how come I can push myself above and beyond for someone else's deadlines and writing assignments, from my employers or my friends or my publishers, but when it comes to me and my own story, I lose that drive. Maybe it's too personal somehow? Maybe it's something I'll finally be able to do in another few decades, looking back at the whole picture? Maybe it was just too close? I'll always be grateful I was able to get this man's critique and his interest, however fleeting. His client list is among the best in the world. But that was my big moment, when I was teetering on the brink.

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