Wednesday, March 16, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 14
So my agent and I figured out our miscommunication—and she read my latest rewrite of Color the Sidewalk for Me.
After that things began to happen quickly. Well. For a while.
She loved Sidewalk. It was ready, more than ready. No more changes needed. Jane contacted some publishers, told ’em she had a hot new author they wouldn’t want to miss. (That’s agent-speak for please let me recoup some money after all the time I’ve spent on this newbie.) Numerous folks said they’d look at it. That’s the power of a strong agent. He/she can get the attention of top editors, send ’em a manuscript, and it goes to the top of their piles.
Jane also sent out Ashes to Angels. Except that by now it sported a new name. At the time a very popular book was on the bestseller list—Angela’s Ashes. “Too close to that one,” Jane said. Drat. I lost my great title. So I cast around—haha—and came up with a name that went with Color the Sidewalk for Me. Namely, Cast a Road Before Me. When I chose the title, I found a way to write it into the story. And I went back and worked in all the symbolism for road, just as I’d worked in symbolism for sidewalk in its sister book.
My memory gets a little fuzzy here. Were the two books sent out together or to different editors? Sheesh, I must be gettin’ old. At any rate, they were both out--somewhere. Needless to say, I was ecstatic. How long had it been since Eyes of Elisha had been sent out by an enthusiastic agent? Maybe two years? It had taken me that long just to regain the ground I’d lost. Now I wanted to dance.
Except one thing. The memory of that last fiasco plucked at me. That agent had sent out Eyes of Elisha—and no one had bought it . . .
Well. That wouldn’t happen this time.
I waited. Again.
We received a few rejections. Okay, it happens. Then an editor who was really interested asked for an exclusive on Color the Sidewalk for Me. (When the manuscript is sent to no one else while he/she looks at it.) “Okay,” said Jane, “for a finite amount of time.” Meanwhile three production companies were looking at Sidewalk for possible screen rights. This is always a real long shot, but hey, sounded good to me.
Jane sent the manuscript.. We waited. And waited. This was going on too long. Jane contacted the editor. “What happened, where’s your answer?”
“Whadya mean where’s my answer? Where’s your manuscript?”
Huh? “You mean you never received it?” Jane asked.
No. Editor had not.
Lost in the mail. Oh, for heaven’s sake. More months wasted as a result.
Jane resent the manuscript.
Then the editor, who was very pregnant by this time, had to stop working immediately due to complications. Well, hang on, she said, maybe she could read the manuscript from bed. So we waited some more. Then the baby came early. He was healthy, but little. Suddenly the last thing this woman was thinking about was reading a manuscript. Okay, these were circumstances out of our control. We’d wait no more. Jane left Sidewalk with this editor, but--with permission--also sent it out to others.
Months had passed between these back-to-back fiascos. And, of course, they were added to the months lost due to the miscommunication with Jane. Why was all this happening? Had I not waited long enough? I just couldn’t believe it. If it wasn’t one thing, it was something else. Was this career ever going to get off the ground?
And then came the night that would change my life.
Read Part 15