Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finding My Peeps


No, not those foul yellow marshmallow candies shaped like chicks.

Yesterday as I was checking my email one more time before dashing out to get Lola from school I finally got a response from the agent who has had my manuscript since August. I had one of those bumpbump moments where everything except the squeezing of my heart stopped for a bit and I tried to decide whether or not to open it before leaving home. Then my true (impatient) nature returned to me along with my breath and I clicked on it. No go. The comments were kind and seemed genuine, but the agent apologized that, although she enjoyed the book, she didn't have the "conviction" to take the project on. It has taken me about 15 hours to fully appreciate this.

I was disappointed and somewhat at a loss, but decided to sit with it for a bit before making my next move. Well, at least my next tangible move. In the meantime, I've had an absolute hurricane of activity going on in my brain as I examine options surreptitiously while pretending not to. Even to myself.

Fortunately, I had an early morning breakfast to look forward to. The Women's Funding Alliance held their annual fundraising event and there were so many reasons I was supposed to be there that I went.
  • Kathy LeMay was the featured speaker and at the time that the breakfast was publicized, I had just completed a book review for Feminist Review that contained an essay written by her on philanthropy. (The book is called "Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart" - it is fantastic and inspiring and uplifting. My review is here.)
  • So many of the local organizations that I support are funded by grants from the Women's Funding Alliance, and I am all for streamlining my efforts, so the fact that there is an umbrella organization that is passionate about supporting the same things that I do in lots of different ways is immeasurably cool.
  • My sister-in-law, who is plugged in to all things "Strong Women" invited me.
  • It offered a morning off from dragging reluctant (ha!) children from their beds, force feeding them protein, stuffing lunchboxes full of snacks and assortments of healthy foods as well as those they will actually eat, and ushering them off to school. Bubba didn't so much 'offer' to do it as show up when ordered to do it.
So, I went. And I was awed. Inspired. Reminded why I wrote the book I wrote and what I want it to stand for. I watched a group of 30 or so teenage girls get up on stage and tap dance at 7:30 to Aretha just to pump up the crowd. I listened and was moved to tears by women who are committed to creating a world where girls and women can express themselves, trust their own instincts, follow their dreams, believe in themselves, and live safely and without bias.

I am reconsidering. If my goal is truly to get this message out, then maybe I need to just do it. Perhaps pitching the stories in my book as a series of articles in the local women's magazine would work. Maybe I beat down the doors of some local, progressive publishing houses and tell them why I love this book so much. I don't know. But I do know that I've been reminded who my "peeps" are and I'm grateful to that agent for knowing that what she needed in order to represent me and my book was conviction. I don't want anyone working on my behalf that isn't excited about this book and the way it gives voice to so many women.

*You can read a little about my project here. I will post about it more in the days to come.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

My dear friend,
I am so sorry that the agent did not feel the conviction she needed to pursue in the publishing direction, but I truly admire your willingness to fight for it, fight for you book, fight for what you believe in, fight for the right of all these women to he heard and recognized. Once your book is published, while you might never know it, so many women will be grateful to you, grateful for your interest in their cause, grateful for trying to understand what they are going through, grateful for your compassion. By having to fight so much to get it published you make all of us realize how hard it must be for all these women to get their voice heard. Your book is beautifully written, there is no doubt about it. What I think is the limiting factor to getting it published, is not the quality of the book, it is that it is a long run book. It is not a sensational novel that will sell in 90 days as you say it yourself, it is a book that will tell the struggle of all these women; their struggle to be heard, their struggle to be recognized as a women and not only as a potential new mother bringing a new life to the world, the need of all these women to be loved and accepted despite their decision. I cannot prevent myself to think that the fact that it so hard to get your book published is that a big part of the world is not ready yet to support these women and their choice, to take the risk to support them. Fight for your book, they need your love and unconditional support.

-Isabelle

Alicia D said...

its so difficult to be a writer... it takes such tenacity and belief in yourself and your project and have a thick skin for all the "rejection" for lack of a better word. but, i know this - you WILL get this work out there bc it is too amazing to not be published. i believe in it, and in you as a writer, and i know you'll hang in there. :)

Deb Shucka said...

It sounds like you're getting clearer and clearer about what you want to accomplish. Each closed door guides you gently toward that one door that will swing wide open, and that door will lead you to the fulfillment of this dream. I believe in you. Love.

Kathryn Grace said...

I'm with Deb on this one. I once spent two weeks at a writers conference under the tutelage of an accomplished writer. This question of rejection came up again and again. She told us she had a failsafe method for handling it. Each time she sent her ms to a publisher, she immediately chose the next publisher to whom she would submit and addressed the envelope. The moment her book was returned, she put it in the new envelope and sent it off again. Repeat procedure.

Doing this, she once had the grand good fortune, or misfortune, depending on how you look at it, of having had a publisher reconsider. On one day she received an advance from the first publisher, the next day she received an advance for the same book from another publisher!

I've forgotten how many times the author of Ordinary People submitted her ms, but it seems to me it was more than 300. Downside, of course, is that there probably are not 300 publishers left in the world today, thanks to corporate gobbling of small houses.

Keep believing in your work. Sooner or later, an editor will too.

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