This is an important day, and not just because of the ridiculous head wound I gave myself this morning.
I first got serious about writing and selling fiction in 2000. It took me eight years to make a first sale, and then another four more to make another. I joined one writing group, then another. I went to one workshop, then another. Every step, I felt closer to getting it, to understanding the work of writing, of telling a good story, of convincing someone to give me money for that story.
In 2007, I started my first novel and worked on it during my lunch hour. After I got laid off in spring of 2009, I worked on it every day until I wrapped up the first draft in a sweltering motel room in Arkansas. And then I polished. And revised. And got feedback. And had a good friend copy edit the crap out of it. And on and on and on until, late last year, I said it was ready as it would ever be and started to submit it to agents.
I did my research. I poured through AgentQuery.com and Publisher’s Marketplace. My friend Mez sent me the massive spreadsheet of agents and publishers he used when did his Ritual Query Mating Dance, and I just about threw in the towel because sweet Jesus there were a lot of entries there. Then the Stubborn Jackass part of my brain kicked in and said to suck it up and get to work. I got in my daily word count, then spent my evenings sending out queries. I despaired as the queries came boomeranging back as rejections or vanished down into oblivion. I started second-guessing myself, first wondering if my query sucked, then wondering if my book sucked, then wondering if Isucked.
And then, sixty or so queries later, I got an email from an agent who’d read my little story about little bison. He’d liked what he’d read. Did I have a novel? Why, yes! Then, two days later, one of my queries to a different agent turned into a request for the full text. Why, yes, again! All of a sudden, I didn’t suck. That was a great feeling. And then they made me offers to represent me, and that was an even greater feeling. After talking with both agents, their clients, my friends, and anyone else who would listen, I came to a decision.
And then I walked into a cabinet door.
Right above the fridge is a cabinet with a double door. One side opens against a wall and is at just the right height to nail a careless person in the head. This morning, after making my choice and walking out of the kitchen to get the freshly printed agency agreement to sign and fax back, I was that careless person. My forehead hit the door right on an inside edge, then the rest of me went down. I didn’t black out, but I sure as hell cried. I now have a lovely two-inch gash that will remind me of two things: slow down and pay attention.
My new agent, Joshua Bilmes, has already told me as much in the revision notes he sent along with the agreement: slow down a bit here, catch some of these errors there. Windswept is going to be a better book thanks to his input, and I’m very, very excited to be working with him and the rest of the crew at JABberwocky Literary. I just have to remember not to rush headlong into anything and make sure I have a clue of what’s ahead. One scar will be enough, thank you very much.