Monday, October 24, 2005


Last night in a cold-medicine induced haze, I started reading John Cheever's journals. How comforting to find such an American literary icon so utterly vulnerable and scared. I'm allowing myself this departure from reading fiction for a bit. I simply can't bear to read the latest "It" girl or boy's contribution to contemporary letters. And so Cheever it is. But more interesting even than his neuroses are my grandfather's annotations. The book is a borrowed copy from the Craig Camp Library which I brought back from Vermont this summer (along with Cheever's letters). It is fascinating to decipher my grandfather's life via the mysterious checks and underlines and exclamation points in every one of his books. This summer I found the copy of Undressing the Moon that I had given to him. He passed away before we ever got a chance to discuss it; I feared that after his stroke he had not been able to muddle his way through. But inside the pages were his glorious scratches and notes as well as the date he finished it. He has left small treasures everywhere. Last night as I read it felt like I was reading two stories -- Cheever's and my grandfather's.

I haven't talked much about the girls lately...perhaps because they are so everpresent in my life, there's no room left in my writing? The fairy costumes are almost done. I have sewn battery-operated Christmas lights into the wings, bought sparkly shoes, and sewn tu-tu's filled with silk flowers. Kicky is beside herself in anticipation of Halloween and Esmee is, as she almost always is, blissfully oblivious.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Back on the Horcycle

So, after wallowing in self-pity for the requisite 24 hours (that's all I usually need even for the greatest disappointments), I am back on the proverbial horse (or is it bicycle)? I have approached some respected agents whose clients I admire and have sparked some interest in a couple. It certainly seems a little easier this time around. However, I don't want to get my hopes up just yet. This time I am finding myself so much less desperate than the first my biggest concern is finding the perfect fit. This book is too important for me to leap blindly into a new relationship. I need someone who will stick it out with me...somebody who's in this for the long haul. I also need someone who has connections with the perfect editor for this book. It is so much like breaking up with someone. There's all this sadness, but a simultaneous thrill at all of the possibilities.

I am reading a terrific book called "The Forest for the Trees" by Betsy Lerner. She's a former editor, turned agent, and this book is the most honest look at the publishing industry I have ever read. She is so acutely sensitive to the precarious ego of the writer as well as the temperament of both established and fledgling authors. I so rarely pick up books like these, but the timing seemed serendipitous.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


So...things are not what I expected. Not. At all. Not in the remotest sense of the word.

My agent finally got back to me after five weeks (six months if you count the month before she went on maternity leave, the four months out, and the one month since she's gotten back), and the verdict is not good. Despite her earlier (May) enthusiasm (Very excited to have a new one to work on together esp one with so much promise....), now she seems to think the book needs to be turned on its ass, spun around and sent flying into outerspace. At least that's how I interpreted her comments. Actually, it just suddenly seems that she wants it to be a different book than it is or should be. She wants it to be about the civil rights movement, about Harper's mother's experience in Mississippi. Suddenly, everything that I see as peripheral to the story, she sees as potentially integral and vice-versa. She sees it as a woman's book that doesn't appeal to women. Figure that one out. And here's the kicker, she thinks the changes required are so enormous that there is no way she could possibly handle them. Argh. Initially, before all of the work I did this summer, she thought the changes needed were entirely manageable. It's like some terrible Twilight Zone episode, though not nearly as entertaining.

Anyway, we went back and forth a few times...sparring and bruising. And ultimately, essentially, we broke up. Call it the seven year itch...but what I believe is going on, is that now, with a new baby at home, there isn't the time she feels she needs to give to her lesser clients (read, the ones whose book sales are as miserable as mine). I have no idea what caused her to change her mind about the book itself; I'll probably never know.

However, I have what I believe is a terrific novel in need of some minor editing. It's been seven years since I've written a query letter, and I am rusty, but I'm jumping right back on this dang bicycle. So...if anyone out there knows a hot shot agent who would like to take this challenge know where to find me :)