OK, honesty required: I had no clue what to write for this post. Lisa the Martyr read her fellow debutantes’ posts about their so-called hardships when it came to finding agents or selling their books — pleeeease! I’m the novelist swamp thing who dragged myself out of the publishing trenches and lived to tell the tale over a decade later. <pity party here>
Talk about needing to get a grip. Comparing my journey to my fellow debutantes’ journeys — and, worse still, finding myself the loser — was ridiculous. We all have different life circumstances. The truth is, I persisted despite two major bouts of depression, three literary-agent sob stories, and dire financial repercussions from the danged economic downturn. I know plenty of writers who have quit for less.
I’m the friggin’ poster child for persistence!!! (I just stole some of Lori’s exclamation points. See Monday’s post.)
And the truth of the matter is that it didn’t actually take me that long to find each of my agents. Each time, within a year. One time, within weeks. So what happened? Do I have phenomenally bad luck? Maybe so. Luck is a fickle mistress. We can never know which way she will go, which is another reason not to compare our journeys against anyone else’s.
I’ll tell you the story about how I lost my first agent, who worked at a New York City Prestigious Boutique Agency (PBA). The reason I relate this particular anecdote out of the oodles of possibilities is because our topic this week relates to “the call.” This was a call all right, but the anti-call, the sucking maw of a call that left me going, “Huh? What just happened?”
I was the caller, calling my PBA agent because I hadn’t heard from her in awhile and I had a question. I got the switchboard as usual. Press 1 for A, press 2 for B … Press 10 for J … Wait a second. Her name was no longer listed on the switchboard, so … Nah, this had to be some kind of oversight, that was all.
I dialed zero and spoke to one of the other agents. My agent had apparently flown the coop never to be seen again in the land of publishing. To be a stay-at-home mom. I’m all for stay-at-home moms, but that pissed me off. Really? And you couldn’t have given me a heads up?
Worse still, come to find out that the agent I was talking to had inherited me, and he wasn’t too thrilled about it either. You can see where that relationship went. Nowhere.
My first sob story occurred toward the end of 2008, just in time for my writing grant money to run out and the economic downturn to peak. This was one of the many times I almost quit fiction. In fact, I did quit KILMOON for awhile. While in my prolonged funkitude, I wrote a novel that will never see the light of day. The dreaded “autobiograpical” novel, which was perfect for my state of mind and kept me writing and was probably the best thing for me at the time. I used to discuss it during my therapy sessions.
That all seems like a bumpy lifetime ago, and I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m proud of myself. I really am. I’m here to tell you that if I can get published, so can you. After all, even the swamp thing got his Adrienne Barbeau in the end.
So, readers, tell me about a time you felt like a swamp thing but prevailed anyhow.