I’ve been busy, notwithstanding my bad habit of neglecting my blog.
During the last half of September and the first part of October, I reworked my query letter before plunging into more revisions on the ms for The Door to Yesterday. At the end of October, I felt ready to send out another round of queries, this time to my top tier of agents.
In early November, when the rejections started rolling in—the first one from someone I’d always thought of as my “dream agent”—I felt like I’d died a little inside and began to wonder if my confidence had been misplaced.
Then, halfway through November, I got my first rejection containing constructive criticism about why an agent had passed. Finally, something I could use. Close on the heels of the helpful rejection, I received my first partial request. Sadly, that agent ultimately passed, saying five little words I’ve come to dread: “This is not for me.”
In spite of the disappointment (and I think in someways because of it), for the first time I began to internalize what I’d been hearing at SCBWI workshops and reading on writer and agent websites: this business is incredibly subjective and what “is not for” one agent may just be another’s cup of tea. I’m grateful for this shift in perspective, because through most of the querying process so far, I’ve tormented myself with thinking if I just tweaked this or that in my query or first pages, then I’d finally get some interest. My query was clearly doing its job if I’d gotten a partial request; I just needed to keep searching for the agent who clicked with my story.
So, I didn’t give up. Instead, I took a step back from revisions and queries to clear my head, and gave myself a creative break by working on poetry. I pitched a poem about fishing with my grandfather to a new zine on Medium called The Stories. I’d seen their call for submissions because I started following Sara Benincasa after reading her brilliant, sidesplittingly scathing take-down of a fat-shamer, “Why Am I So Fat?” (which hit a nerve with me because I’ve been shamed because of my weight, too, and only wish I’d had the backbone to respond as bluntly and directly as she did).
Christmas came a week and a half early when Sara emailed with a request to see my poem. Then on December 30th, she followed up by sending me a W9 to fill out. As in, yes, she wanted to give me money for my writing. Having this particular poem published—and being paid for it—was especially gratifying because I wrote it about my grandfather, who’s been my inspiration as I’ve pursued my writing career.
Just when I thought 2016 was already ending with the best possible bang…
On New Year’s Eve, I stood hunched over an ironing board down in my basement—because while folks around the world slept off their hangovers, I’d be in church on New Year’s day, wearing a dress. I’m not sure if that makes me overly pious or merely pathetic. Both, probably. Anyway, as I pressed out a sleeve, my phone beeped with an email notification.
My first full request.
In hindsight, the screams emanating from our basement probably inflicted unnecessary trauma on my poor children…but I really couldn’t help myself.
Meanwhile, my poem “Lac Des Roches, 1977” posted to The Stories first thing this morning. Please take a look and let me know if you like it.