Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why I did it, Part the Third

So when we last left our heroine, I'd just gotten my very second partial. And it felt MUCH more real than the full request the year before. Sure, I thought, it's just a partial, BUT THEY LIKED IT. I repeated this to myself as I carefully followed their instructions. I repeated this to myself as I moved from Corpus Christi to Small Little Hick Town (of AWESOME) and started a new job. I repeated it to myself through six long, long months of e-mail tag, in which I asked if I were still on their radar after two months, and they said "Yeah, we're busy" (BTW this is normal, and a little pushy on my part) and I went back to repeating BUT THEY LIKED IT to myself.

And then this happened:

I did not cry this time. I hibernated. I stopped everything for three months and waited for the feels to return. Because the depression this time wasn't that "Oh, I feel sad" kind. It was the "I am numb, and I'd like to stay that way" kind.

So then I went back to normal Queries, and I went back to flat out rejections. It continued. And continued. And Continued. And eventually the problem became not the rejection letters themselves, but the conversations with my family. My father in particular felt I should have pursued the agency that asked for the partial. I should, he said, e-mail them back and ask if I could resubmit. I replied that you don't DO that. That's not how agencies work. (For the record: You don't DO that. That's not how agencies work.) After about three, four months, he stopped asking and started manipulating.

Around the same time that this is happening, I decided to try to get somebody with street cred to tell me what I was doing wrong with the novel (read as: Say "OMG I LOVE IT" and publish it), and I tried my damndest to win a full manuscript critique by DREAM AGENT at a charity auction. I even got my boss to let me keep my laptop on the property so I could bid on the auction, a request that she granted against all odds.

 I lost.

I bought a bottle of wine from my boss and got completely shitfaced that night.

This becomes very important later in the story.

The next day I discussed this with my dad, and he repeated the "Why don't you ask the agency that liked your work for a second chance?" refrain. I told him no. He kept pushing. I began crying. I told him no again. He asked me "What do you have to lose?" and I hung up on him.

And then I decided he was right, and I sent them another e-mail:

I expected a "not just no, but HELL no," which was what I'd been told to expect from agents when presented with this request. So I almost didn't even bother opening their reply. I can't repeat it here without either blurring out 90% of the text or providing enough info to identify the agency, but the gist of it was "Yes, if the rewrite is significant enough".

I sent them another sample of the manuscript. I sent, I think, three follow up emails between August of '11 and Feb of '12, and received one reply back. After that, it was radio silence until later. MUCH later.

I quit submitting entirely in February, if my records are right. I think that was the point where I was just fucking sick of it. I was tired, several major people had quit at my job and I had to cover for them, I had every word of the book memorized, and THAT Agency still hadn't responded to the partial or the follow-up emails. Which wasn't their fault. I was just stressed out and tired and tired of being stressed out and tired, and I was ready to explode.

February became March.

March '12 became April.

I began thinking about querying again. I also discovered that I had failed to file my taxes properly the year before, and that between getting that fixed and changing jobs, I was going to be getting quite a bit of money on my tax return this year. I spent ALL of April 13th, which was a Friday, getting that taken care of.

And then I went to church.

And this next part, I warn you, is fucking insane.

This was the first time I'd gotten to go to church in over a year. To say that I was tired is to understate. In reality, I needed to be on serious medication. I wasn't just suicidal. I had a plan. It was a very well researched, if highly melodramatic plan, and the only reason I hadn't put it into place was I didn't know what I'd do with my cat. I didn't want to make her live without me, and I didn't want to hurt her. I also didn't want to die because of The Book. If I died, the Book would never become a thing, and I felt like I owed it more than that. And so I went to church fresh off researching things NOBODY SHOULD EVER RESEARCH, and trying to think of solutions to the cat problem and the book problem.

(NOTE: Suicidal thoughts are not things. They are symptoms. Your brain is having the chemical equivalent of a seizure and you need medical help NOW. It's not something to be ashamed of. Please. If you're thinking like that, go get help.)

I remember that the message was on Daniel in the Lion's Den. NOTE TO MY NON-CHRISTIAN READERS: This is like going to school and getting a lecture on two plus two. It's not just information you've already covered, it's information you had memorized by second grade. Daniel and the Lion's Den is Baby's First Bible Reader level material. I pretty much tuned the first half of it out. Then the pastor said something along the lines of how the first part of the story is a test of Daniel, and the second part (the part with the lions in it) was a test of God.

And suddenly I became convinced that this was why I'd finally gotten a Sunday off for the first time in a year. Was so that I could sit there in  that chair, hear that, and understand what the last two years had been about. The whole submission-rejection cycle had been a test of me. To see if  I were emotionally durable enough handle it (...that'd be a big no) and if I could still believe in God after a whole year of not getting my own way. Now, God (or my own brain, whichever you want to go with) was telling me that it was His turn. He was the one who would be tested now, and I needed to sit tight.

 Monday came. Monday went. Tuesday came.

 And for some reason I cannot remember, I went back to that charity auction site, and discovered that they were holding another auction.

 DREAM AGENT was holding another auction for a full manuscript critique.

It had started that morning.

I realized that I had an insane (to me) amount of money coming, and that meant I could probably afford to bid up to an equally insane amount of money. But I had bid the previous year. There was no way I could do it.

I called my Dad and asked him if he could help to spot me the money. He said yes, he could. I spent that entire night at work jittery as a bug with this blend of religious mania and stage fright. Could this be it? Could this be what God had wanted me to wait for? No. It couldn't possibly be. It was just another of those stupid things, like that annoying surge of hope every time I opened what turned out to be a rejection letter. It wouldn't work.

I went to a local bar after work rather than going home. I sat down on my smart phone and I started bidding at the five-minutes-to-go mark.

Four minutes.

Three minutes.




And I stared at the screen in resigned disappointment as, once again, somebody had gotten the higher bid. My last bid was at 11:59 on the nose, and the next one was at midnight. Midnight was the end of the auction. I had been beaten again. Not because I didn't have the money, but because I wasn't fast enough hitting the fucking bid button. The familiar I'm-numb-so-I-won't-cry feeling returned. But that was what was expected. I don't get to win these sorts of things. I hit refresh on the auction page and ordered another fruity beer.

The page refreshed.

I was wrong. The auction ended at 11:59:59, not midnight. Which meant I had the highest bid.

In other words, for the very first time in my life, I had won. 

And once again, I was the happiest little girl in the world.

Of course, given how much I've whined about "Last April", you all know this isn't going to end well.


  1. Of course, given how much I've whined about "Last April", you all know this isn't going to end well.

    Nitpicking, but from what you've said it sounds like you have a legitimate grief with last April.

  2. I am reading this and being impressed by your tenacity and drive.

    1. That's the funny thing about sharing personal stories. When you're inside of it the only part that you see is how much went wrong. I can't see tenacity there. Drive, sure. Stubbornness. But just...not the praiseworthy bits.

      I guess all our good stories end like Schindler's List. Everyone else is trying to reward Mr. Schindler for keeping so many people alive and Oksar is punishing himself because he couldn't save one more.