(And by people I mean editors. And by talk I mean answers or feedback or some kind of human communication.)
I have grown horns on my head and don’t realize it.
There is only a certain amount of space available in editors’ brains and that space is already taken up by their own deadlines, the writers who they deem important, of which of course I am not one, the meetings they must attend, the pressure from sales and marketing and publishers and other things I don’t fully understand, and of course the fact that they need to pick up the dry-cleaning.
I am wearing a sign that says “Ignore Me” (instead of “Kick Me”) and people are quick to follow directives on signs.
I am a passive aggressive bag of stress and pathetic anxiety, and this seeps out of me whenever I send an e-mail, make a phone call, or enter an office to ask a question, and instead of dealing with it, it is far easier to look away.
I am easily forgettable. When they receive an e-mail from me, their first thought is “Who is that again? Oh, right. Her.” And then as soon as the e-mail is out of sight they forget that I exist until I send another e-mail. It is a vicious cycle of forgetability for which my weird name does not seem to help.
I am one of those annoying people who don’t know they’re annoying and whenever I leave a room it is mentioned how annoying I am and so far no one has decided to tell me to my face.
I have inadvertently gained the power of invisibility, but the drawback of this power is that I don’t know I have it and still assume people can see me when I walk into a room.
I am deaf. People have been talking to me this whole time; I just can’t hear it.
Intern/personal assistant desperately needed to help struggling artist get through day. Tasks include laundry, dishes, shredding thousands of pages of old manuscripts, finding books lost in piles in bedroom because there are no bookshelves, perhaps building and installing bookshelves, dyeing hair, packing lunch for workday at meaningless job that sucks life out of employer, giving praise when employer has had life sucked out, buying employer the skincare products she wants at Kiehl’s but hasn’t yet because she is too tired to walk over to 2nd Avenue, dusting, stocking fridge, putting away items employer drops on floor, scrubbing bathtub, telling dog owner upstairs that dog is barking too often and too loudly and too late at night and is driving employer crazy, paying bills, standing on line at post office, buying lotto tickets, attending public functions and parties on employer’s behalf, taking over employer’s position at meaningless job when she calls in “sick”, making bed, hanging up clean clothes on floor, buying employer a new pair of shoes, and finding lost birthday checks from nana.
Respond with resumes and references.
Monetary compensation cannot be provided.
This is how easy it can be for other people:
1. Decide one day: Hey, I am going to write a novel.
2. Write one draft of novel.
3. Show friends. (Must have friends in order to do this.)
4. Rewrite in, like, two weeks.
5. Decide: Hey, I am ready to get a literary agent.
6. Send book to three agents. Do not query, do not follow sample-chapter/SASE rules, just send the whole damn thing in and then call agents to boot.
7. Get three offers from three agents.
8. Mull over who you like best. Talk to other writers who are also looking for agents about how you have three people interested and ask them who you should choose. (It is not any of your concern that this may make the other writers contemplate burning their own novels and/or suicide.)
9. Pick agent.
10. Sit back and have agent sell book.
The above is a true story. I have seen it happen before; I am seeing it happen now. No, it is not happening to me.
1) A month off from work. I am not exaggerating; that’s how I did the last revision. And not just a month off from my full-time job, it was a month away from the frenzy of New York City, a month away from TV, a month away from the love of my life, which made it next to impossible to sleep nights, plus I was in a house all alone in the woods (it felt like it to me) and was afraid to go near the fireplace during the night and halfway through my visit found a door below my bed that led to what I assume was the boiler room that could be accessed from outside the house without any kind of lock, which completely and totally freaked me out and it was all I could do to get on the bed in the dark and stay there. I wrote mornings. I wrote afternoons. I skipped events, and a few times dinner, and wrote nights. This is what it took for me to get those 344 pages into the shape that they are now. I don’t know if I have it in me to do it again.
2) Other people. My perspective is shot. I see the book as it is, and only as it is, and that’s how it lives in my head, fully completed and grown. I am having a difficult time imagining it any other way. I would need people to read the thing and give me feedback. But not just any people. In my experience, people have let me down. They have not come through when I needed them. They did not help me in the way I needed to be helped. I have asked many people for help and they have said no. I have trusted people to read what I have written and they have not responded . . . ever. I have a tendency to be too trusting, and lately to protect myself I’ve walled up this tendency. Now I show most people nothing and a few people I like and respect a few things. E doesn’t count because he sees everything, but since he’s read my book at least three times I sometimes think he knows it better than me. So maybe the next one should be . . .
3) E. If I did a rewrite I would need E’s help more than he could imagine. Plot ideas. Edits. Inspiration. Understanding. Home-cooked pasta sauce with the zucchini the way I like it. Is he willing and able to live through another season of me revising this thing?
4) Cold hard cash. Because we are broke and this is not the time to be fiddling with a literary fiction manuscript, throwing blind story changes in to please some person who may not even like the new product anyway. Right now we need to pay the rent, plus eat and deal with credit cards and student loans and even if in the back of my mind a glimmer of fantasy pictures me quitting my current job to work on this thing, I know it can’t ever happen. (Guess how I wrote the very first draft? I quit a job to do it. Yeah, practical.) Sometimes I think the only thing that could save us is the Lotto fairy.
5) Patience. This is the great test of my life: wanting things right away and having to face the fact — time and time again — that I will not get them when I want them. I will have to wait. And I hate to wait. If I revise again it means extending the wait even longer.
6) Pharmaceuticals. Why did I quit doing drugs and drinking? Oh, right, I had this ridiculous idea of working hard and getting up mornings and being a writer. I didn’t want any distractions; I wanted a clear head. And just look where that landed me. What I need now is some kind of magical substance that will keep me from sleeping, keep me from procrastinating, force me to be inspired and write the Best Stuff Ever. What kinds of street drugs are out and about these days? Maybe there’s one like that.
7) Hope. Let it flow eternal. Because I need it right now.
This is my inbox:
And staring at it does nothing to help.
I was telling a coworker today that I think I am being tested.
She leaned in, eyes wide, By who? she said.
I waved my hands to indicate everything and everyone around us.
She whispered: By the Powers That Be here at [Our Company]?
And I’m like, Oh no, I mean the universe. The universe is testing me, not the publisher.
Just the universe then? she said.
But then we agreed that was much worse.
My coworker said she doesn’t think she’s being tested right now because I seem to be going through a lot more than she is so more likely she’s just stressed.
I told her maybe she could be tested next. The universe is all hers, as soon as she wants it.
Thanks, she said.
Anytime, I said.
(Universe? I am on to you.)