Wednesday, March 09, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 10
Man, look at that heading. We’ve hit double digits. I’m getting longer winded than my Aunt Martha.
If I had an Aunt Martha.
Question from yesterday—yes, I will blog from the conference. Monday through Friday, you can count on me. The posts may be a little later than usual, but hey, no worries. Meanwhile for the next week I remain in ye ol’ office.
So I careened into sleep in a Chicago hotel.
Next morning I headed downtown, emotions on hold. I would meet this agent, see what she had to say. If we didn’t connect . . . well, I’d survive. So I’d have to start the agent-hunting thing all over again. So it had taken eight months.
I couldn’t think about that. I didn’t have the energy.
This woman’s agency was in an old building, up some rickety elevator. I’m talkin’ the ancient kind where you fold back the metal collapsing door. Not exactly snazzy Madison digs like BNYA’s. But a whole lot quieter. I stepped into the nothing fancy office. Whoa. Chaos. Manuscripts everywhere. Stacks of ’em. Numerous assistants scurrying around, looking harried. What had I gotten myself into?
Out came Chicago Agent.
CA had to be near her seventies. Not too tall. She wore no classy business suit like the smooth BNYA. Just a regular dress, her hair somewhat frazzled. She introduced me to everyone, then took me into her private area. More chaos. Worse, even. We sat down among the piles—and got right to business.
Let me tell you something right now about CA. She intimidated me like you wouldn’t believe. The woman was intense. And talk about straightforward. CA would tell you your baby was ugly. But she was also terrific. She told me what was right with my manuscript. What was wrong with it. (“Well, for one thing, it’s much too long.”) Everything she said struck me as insightful, right-on. This woman understood Color the Sidewalk for Me, title, theme and all.
Uh. One note here. I didn’t ask CA exactly what “much too long” meant.
I can’t remember how long we talked. I only know that this woman, with her determined movements and lack of pretense—and did I mention straightforwardness?—made a deep impression on me. She knew what she was talking about. Plus, she obviously had plenty clients and didn't need me a whit. But she was gonna make room. She saw something in me--a real potential. In me. Wow. And she was willing to guide me through the rewriting process.
“Um. So.” By the end of our interview I was nearly stammering. “Do you think you can sell my book?”
She hitched her shoulders up high. “If you fix it.”
I said I’d give it my best. And we had a deal--Jane Jordan Browne and I.
When I arrived home, I called BNYA to tell her many thanks, but I’d accepted representation at another agency. She sounded shocked.
As for me—pure elation. I had an agent again! Well, pretty much . . . sorta . . . almost had her. I just had to fix the manuscript. I’d been writing fiction for 7 ½ years now. I could do whatever she wanted—shouldn’t be that hard.
Read Part 11