Beating the Odds
Written by
Tess Hardwick
March 2011
Written by
Tess Hardwick
March 2011

 “God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can for yourself.”  Oprah Winfrey

My intention with all my writing, whether it’s fiction or a blog post, is to inspire and uplift.  Riversong is described by my publisher as a ‘feel good book’.  This suits me just fine.   When readers finish that last sentence, I want them to feel the glow of possibilities in their own lives, even in the face of difficult odds.  Riversong is about the magnitude of friendship, the redemptive power of love, the importance of community.  I know it’s not everyone’s idea of what great literature is or does, but it is who I am and what I write. Because throughout my life, I have seen amazing things happen after the darkest of hours. 

One such event happened to me last November when my friend Katherine Sears called me on the phone.  It was a dull rainy morning, the kind we have in the Northwest that seem to seep into your body, making you pessimistic and lethargic.  I’ve known Katherine a long time, over twenty years. We were in the same BFA Drama program in the late 80’s at USC. Unfortunately, after I moved to the Northwest in ’92, we lost touch.  This was before email and Facebook so it was easy to lose someone if you weren’t diligent.  I’d thought of her so often in those years, heartsick over the fact that I’d let such a profound friendship go.

Then, three years ago I got an email from her.  She’d googled me and found the reviews about a production of my play in Seattle, therefore learning my married last name and the name of my website, where I listed my email address.

In the years since we’d acted together and drank too much at college parties she’d become a marketing executive.  She’d moved to the northwest in 2005, I was surprised to learn.  We’d been living 8 miles from one another all this time.  Our daughters were born a month apart.  Astounding.  Like something from a novel.

She’s also a book lover, the kind that can devour a book a day.  When I told her in those first days of renewed friendship that I’d just finished my first novel, she asked if she could read it.  I gave it to her, with some trepidation.  She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever known.  She might see right through me, I thought, that I’m a fraud, a hack. 

But she didn’t.  She loved it.  As she said once, our dreams merged.  She wanted to work in the book industry.  I wanted to make a living as a novelist.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful, we said, over and over, if we could find a publisher and work together?  Katherine could market Riversong and sell thousands and thousands of copies.  I could write another and we’d do it again. 

Anyone in his or her right mind would have told us it was a ridiculous idea.  Impossible. The publishing world is a closed one, especially to people like us with no connections, from the Northwest.  Everyone knows most of the cool book people live in New York City.  And we had to admit, after queries were sent and sent and we couldn’t even get a nibble, that this might indeed be impossible.  But we kept dreaming it anyway, envisioning it, talking about it.

So on this particular November morning, I knew from the excited sound of her voice (it goes a whole octave higher) that something big had happened, something great.

She’d just left an interview for a book manager position at an independent publisher called Booktrope, she told me.  And in that interview she’d pitched Riversong.  Long story short, the president of Booktrope agreed to look at it.  He and his people loved it.  I had a contract several weeks later.  Katherine not only got the job, she’s now a partner, running all of marketing and business development.  She’s the book manager onRiversong.  We are about to launch my first novel, together.  Huge.

So you see, it all happened the way we dreamt it might.  Even in the midst of all those terrible odds something close to a miracle happened for both of us.  She never gave up onRiversong or me. 

I know it sounds too good to be true.  But do you see why I write the sorts of books I do? Yes, because wonderful things happen all the time.  Never underestimate the power of friendship or loyalty.  Never doubt that those two things exist in this harsh world.

And dream bigger than the odds, bigger than what the experts tell you is possible.  Just see if it doesn’t come true. 

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