For some reason, I feel compelled to keep the backstory coming. In part because I actually have readers asking for it–and how amazing does *that* feel. But also because a crossroads is coming. I can sense it. One way or another, something is going to happen.
It might be a triumphant victory. Or a quiet acceptance that I have to face another path. Maybe a leap into a great unknown.
But either way, whatever way, I want you guys to know what got me to this point before I get to it. If that makes any sense.
So there I am, dropped by my agent, a novel that almost sold to Knopf (so it had to be decent, right? Decent enough that I didn’t want to give up on it), in the game now for long enough that I have a bit of Concorde fallacy going…
No, that’s not it. None of those are the reasons why, after I’d all but demanded my husband take a day off of work so I could both panic, and stew in the juices of being dumped, I brushed myself off and kept going.
It’s because I love this. I love writing stories. Novels. I love it with a passion, and I want to find readers who will love it, too.
You know that haze you acquire after you’ve been dumped? Everything takes on a sort of not-quite-real aura?
The first thing I remember doing in that hazy time is reaching out to my friend, author Debra Galant, who had recently read my novel. Debra had a good friend who was a literary agent. Maybe she’d be willing to take a look?
Authors are some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met, and oh, did Debbie extend herself for me. She called up her friend. She told her she’d been riveted by my novel.
So of course the agent was excited to see it. It was all going to be OK. I breathed a faint sigh of relief. I let my husband go back to work.
What came next, and at least it was in a blessedly short amount of time by industry standards, was my biggest blow yet. In kind-considering-what-she-really-felt words the agent told me, I’m not surprised your agent hasn’t sold this yet. Sure, it’s good. But it isn’t great.
We need an awful lot of self-delusion to survive in this business.
I deluded. I got up. I did *not* demand that my husband come home from work. I brushed myself off…again.
And I did two things. I majorly revised the good-but-not-great novel, which indeed was flawed–that’s why the team at Knopf had ultimately passed. And I signed up for New York Writers Workshop Pitch conference.
This experience, in addition to being the most exciting, American Idol moment yet of my pre-career, not only refreshed my battered ego (all three editors I pitched to were interested), while a little later leading me to a teaching spot I still feel grateful for every night…
It also led me to my next agent.