Due to this cruel creed I have spent a large part of my best-looking years writing books that I can’t seem to sell. Beginning in fifth grade, when some attention starved nun had me read my essay entitled, “When I Met Jesus” to all the classes in the school, I have been convinced that this is my calling. Not unlike Paul Giamatti’s character in Sideways, I have thrust my fat unpublished tomes into unsuspecting hands and alienated friends and family alike.
My most recent, and fourth book was finished in January despite twin boys that had arrived seven months before. I had to be taken even more seriously now as a writer since I wasn’t dodging the mom label. With one son that was almost doable, with three, lunacy. The urgency to finish East Meets Midwest was gallantly encouraged by my husband who was no doubt horrified by the sight of my monstrous feeding pillow and whirling electric pump. In a voice of pure authority he questioned when the last change had been made to the manuscript prior to my release from the maternity ward; I beamed with pride at thinking that he was thinking I was really a writer to be reckoned with. He had encouraged my finishing the book after reading bits of the first chapters, noting that they weren’t half bad compared to the rest of the stuff I had written. I bowed my head in thanks.
As was the natural order of things, when I thought it was done, really done, I sent it to my agent but only after contacting all close girl friends and insisting they give a big ‘good vibe’ thing at a certain time. There are no bigger supporters than the ones that want you to be even marginally successful with the hopes that you will then shut the fuck up.
Let it be known that agent is a loosey goosey word when said agent’s husband was the second to best man in your wedding, and the only real toast giver due to first best man’s stage fright. And not that a wedding isn’t a party but being really high on pot when you’re over 60 is only a good idea if you’re dying of cancer.
Well the agent had liked the ‘voice!” Sure she had complained about having absolutely no idea where the story was going, and had thought maybe structure, of some sort, was a good idea. I hung on her every breath! I had gotten this far! I was a cool girl with an agent. I rewrote. “You’re still writing that same piece of shit book?” my sister inquired over the two years this novel took to write. I put the babies on formula. I wrote scenes where the protagonist was tired because I was. I was so tired.
While waiting for THE response from the agent, the blessing from her greatness, I spent my phantom book money on a new family room. My eight year old spent his share on a train set, and then changed it to an actual train as the phantom sales skyrocketed. We were rich! We were famous.
She wasn’t even nice when she dumped me. OK, like every damn woman I know who worked on the Obama campaign, even if that meant just saying Obama a hundred times a day, they had all found a higher plane, a higher purpose that didn’t allow for trivialities like attempting to sell a first time, STILL! novelist’s claptrap.
I knew I should have tried to muffle my wailing, intermingled with petrified weeping, in between Chardonnay sips. I knew the au pair was within ear shot and most likely thought she would be sent back to her war-torn country by the sound of things, and that maybe someone was sick, like the husband, and then where would the money come from?
But I couldn’t help it. The ride was over. The agent, vamoose. Now it was query letters and convoluted instructions to ‘first murder your neighbor and send a sample of their finger nail along with a SASE to the following address, you crappy novice writer’.
I knew what was ahead and I wept for every moronic, self-deluded fool that continues to repeat to herself, if at first you don’t succeed.