Today I drove to my local U.S. Post Office.
Enough said. (But I'll go on anyway.)
While you're standing in line at the post office (the one that wraps around that long, slender counter where the multi-colored envelopes and labels are shoved into cubbyholes [I think that's the first time I've ever typed the word cubbyhole], the counter that everyone just leans on to save their legs from buckling out of tiredness), don't you ever wonder how anything in our country gets delivered to the right place at the right time?
When I finally made it to the ever-so-admirable position of front-of-the-line and the postal worker called "next", I walked up to the counter and laid my manila envelope (filled with 133 manuscript pages, a title page, and a cover letter) on that weigh station thingy that sits between the customer and the postal worker.
The postal worker didn't speak to me, not even a "Hi" or "How you doing?" She glanced at the envelope and started pushing buttons. So, of course, being the kind person and taking the high road (after standing in line for nearly 25 minutes), I took the initiative. "How are you?" I said.
The postal worker continued pushing buttons.
How many buttons do you have to push to calculate the cost of sending a middle grade manuscript halfway across the country? It's not War and Peace, for crying out loud. It's 133 pages, a title page, and a cover letter.
Anyway, I neglected the conversation, since that obviously wasn't going anywhere, and I began to look around and absorb my surroundings (as writers do and should).
Behind the counter and beyond the "cordial" postal worker, I noticed a giant crate, about eight feet tall, stuffed with packages and envelopes of every shape and size. And I mean stuffed. Like the crust of a stuffed-crust pizza (horrible simile; but I'm hungry, so I'll leave it).
As I periodically glanced at the crate, another postal worker (who I'm sure was just as personable as the one helping me send off my manuscript) came along and wheeled the giant container around the corner and out of sight.
And then I thought to myself (as the postal worker helping me kept pushing buttons), how in the hell will my manuscript make it to where it's going?
But some how, some way, and with a little luck from the Muse guiding my blood, sweat, and tears (in the form of paper) across the country, my manuscript always makes it to that agent or editor.
But how? Given the lines that form at post offices around the country and the giant stuffed crate I saw, how can that be? You would think that the package you're sending to your niece for her birthday or your birth certificate you're expecting for your passport would easily get lost in that heap of rubble they call mail.
But I have to say, me going to the post office usually means I'm actually sending a manuscript to someone somewhere. So I'll go to the post office as many times as it takes with as many encounters with grumpy postal workers as the post office can throw at me, in order to send that golden manuscript that hits a homerun with that golden agent or editor.
Just another hurdle to jump on that obstacled road to getting published.
This topic begs the question. Anyone have any lost manuscript stories or manuscripts that ended up in someone else's hands? Just curious. Mine have all made it so far. But I'm wondering if this happens more than we all might think.
Happy writing! And happy mailing!