Tuesday, March 08, 2005
How I Got Here, Part 9
I must tell you all, I am approaching brain-deadedness. (Ooh, did Word underline that one in red.) My editors really cracked the whip this time, and I’m on a hard rewrite for my spider book. Have to get it done this week ’cause next week I’m on staff at Mount Hermon Writer’s Conference. Sheesh. Compared to the rewrite, this story-of-my-life stuff is a breeze. Methinks in Heaven I shall write nothing but blogs.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .
Rather, the noisy office of BNYA (Big New York Agent).
So we sat down to talk after my all-night flight. Thinking straight proved a little tricky. First BNYA talked about planning my career. For example, this book would be a mass market paperback. I’d need to stick with writing MMPs for oh, at least five to six books. In time maybe I could move to hardback. I wasn’t too thrilled with this. Guess I’d had my sights set a little higher. But hey, who was I to complain?
Then came the subject of my book title. It was too long. BNYA and her assistant had been “playing with it” but couldn’t come up with anything else yet.
My eyes bugged. “You mean you want to change my title?”
She shrugged. “It happens a lot in this business.”
“I know, but this title—it is the story. The very heart and soul of it.” My passion for the book poured out—Celia’s struggle with her mom, the “sidewalk” symbolism throughout the story. Maybe it was lack of sleep, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop. After all, I’d worked on this book for months now. I’d rewritten it and rewritten it. Been up and down, through hill and valley with it. Now maybe the story was going to break loose, and she wanted to change the title? Couldn’t she see that there was no other title? That the title reflected everything the book stood for?
BNYA let me gush on. (After all, my writing had made her cry.) By the time I played myself out, I thought I had her. I mean, really. The way she listened so attentively, head tilted. Finally my words trailed away.
BNYA frowned out the window, a finger against her lips. Then drew a long breath. “Well. I’ll have to think about it.”
She’d have to think about it?
My mouth smiled. My voice said, “Okay, thank you.” But a boulder sank in my stomach. She didn’t get the book. She read it, even loved it. But she didn’t get it.
We ended the interview with my expressed gratitude for her time and a promise I’d call her soon. She knew I was meeting with another agent. In the cab back to the airport, I could have cried.
I tried to tell myself I was being stupid. Too picky. Who cared if she got the story? She wanted to represent me, wasn’t that enough? But I imagined placing the book in her hands, following her leads for editing. If we couldn’t even agree on the basic theme of the story, would I agree with her edits? And what about those (mass market paperback) titles down the road? As my agent this woman would steer my career. Did I want to place myself in her hands? She and I hadn’t connected at all.
Face it, Brandilyn. Your gut’s screaming at you right now. It says this isn’t the agent for you.
Shut up, gut. After seven years, beggars can’t be choosers.
You’re not a beggar. You can write. Even if BNYA doesn’t catch your theme.
Looking back, I am amazed at how strongly I felt our lack of connection. I would not understand until much later why that happened. At the time I could only feel misery. It would have been no worse if the agent had shut the door in my face. Now it felt shut anyway. By me.
I called my husband, bone tired and sick to the core. I’d come all this way. I just couldn’t understand myself. But the feeling would not leave. BNYA was not the agent for me.
Like the walking dead, I caught a plane to Chicago. Cabbed it to a hotel and fell into bed. One more agent had bitten the dust. One final chance left tomorrow.
Please, God, let this next one be it.
Read Part 10