I heard about Erica’s wonderful, original, well nigh unique book in the thorny jungle of a writing contest. (The book was already published. Had already Made It.) Erica stood out amongst all of us clamoring souls because of that book. This Moment contains a hefty spoonful of the writing life, a dab of kids–in short, everything that makes this blog what it is. And read her bio. It’s a story–if not a Moment–in of itself.
My novel, The Wet Nurse’s Tale, was published by Putnam in August of 2009. I’m a bookseller by trade and the news of my contract—which I received over the phone behind the bookstore counter—so stunned me that my colleague had to practically administer smelling salts to restart my breathing. I remember riding my bike home from work that day: it was summer, I was flying along, and for a moment I was filled with a gasp of total joy. I’ve never skied, but I figure that’s what it feels like.
But maybe it’s because I am a bookseller that, soon enough, I found the grain of salt in the good news. My office, after all, is paved with publishers’ catalogues, each describing hundreds of new books. I see thousands of books arrive at the store and then (alas) get returned to the publisher when they haven’t sold.
I know all too well the odds against which my book stands. To wit: will my readers see what it was I meant to do? (Yes! They’ve understood that my novel’s no romance, but rather is about class and gender and a whole lot of bodily fluids!) Will the publisher spend the bucks to send me on a tour? (No, dang it.) Will my book get reviewed happily? (Yes! The Washington Post liked it! New York Magazine likes it!) Will I shrivel at the less than happy reviews? (Apparently not. Thick skin, I guess. ) Will I be totally frustrated that the local B&Ns keeps selling out (despite the fact that people KEEP going in and asking about it)? (Uh, yeah. Totally frustrated. Dumb chains. )
In the end, I guess my Made It Moments are just exactly those: instants which flare up and then die away again. What’s important is to find them in the work, of course, as you put two words together to say exactly what it is you’ve meant to say.
Erica Eisdorfer, born in Durham, North Carolina, was the first of the three children born to her parents, who had moved down south from the great city of New York and lived for some years in culture shock. The family rented a wonderful house edged by forest and she and her two younger brothers spent a great deal of time playing in the trees where she, due to her birth order and general bossiness, was constantly the admiral of the ship, the mayor of the town, the principal of the school. This sort of innocent play lasted only until her brothers, in what must have been a co-epiphany, realized that they didn’t have to take it anymore and went off by themselves to play with their trucks, leaving her alone forever. This is when she discovered reading.
After having graduated from Duke University, she considered, then rejected the idea of further schooling and went to work at the Bull’s Head Bookshop, where she has found gainful employment for the last thirty years as buyer and manager.