I have a story. Well, being the talkative writer I am, I have many stories. But this one in particular, I’d like to share.
Yesterday, after a long day of writing, I sat down to treat myself to one of my guiltiest pleasures: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. That alone needs a disclaimer: I don’t watch any of the other Real Housewives series, but, for some odd reason, the ladies of Beverly Hills in all their Berkin and Louboutin glory have my attention. That’s all I’ll say about that. Judge as you please.
So, I’m sitting in my family room, sipping earl grey tea with honey, waiting for a friend to call and save me from both myself and the “reality” series vortex I’ve been sucked into.
And then it happened.
One of the “housewives” (who is not married nor a home maker, but hey, semantics) was sitting down meeting with a literary agent. For those of you not familiar with the industry, here’s a brief synopsis: A writer gets an agent. That agent then helps the writer find a publishing house to publish their work. The agent takes a cut. Without an agent, you’re not getting published. I am currently seeking an agent. The end.
Back to story: I’m watching in awe as this particular divorcee—or as Bravo has deemed her, this particular “housewife”—is meeting with someone I would give my left breast to meet with. Or both of my breasts for that matter—they’re not that big and, after watching the particular plastic-surgery-peppered series I’m watching, feel even smaller.
Bottom line: I am dying to get an agent and here, sprawled out across 47 electronic inches in front of me, is a big-breasted blonde who wouldn’t know great literature if it kicked her square in her ass implants, meeting with a literary agent.
The subject matter of the compelling memoir she plans to write? Her divorce.
Now, if being a divorcee were grounds for writing a decent memoir, my mom, my dad and about fifty of my friends’ moms and dads would have all won a Pulitzer by now. The truth is, she has an agent because she’s a celebrity. And there’s nothing agents love more than a celebrity willing to “write” (think: hire a ghostwriter) a book. Celebrity stories sell. Correction: Celebrity stories sell well. And agents take a healthy cut of those sales. That’s all there is to it.
If I was using a knife to stir my tea rather than a spoon, this is the part in the story where I stab myself in the eye.
So, this scene (the blonde and her agent) prompts me to check my email, which I haven’t checked in a whole seven minutes. Background info: Ever since my manuscript has been with a literary agent in New York, I check my email religiously awaiting her response. I’m practically picking petals here: she’ll represent me; she’ll represent me not; she’ll represent me; she’ll represent me not; she’ll represent me! My obsession is so bad that, when hurricane Sandy hit, all I could think was: I hope she didn’t lose my manuscript in the storm. (I swear I'm a compassionate person.)
So, I get up from the couch and head to my laptop. And there it is.
My very first rejection email.
Turns out the agent in New York is “passing” on my manuscript. Now, this is all fine and well. It was the very first agent I sent my work to and I’ve heard horror stories from successful authors who’ve been rejected literally hundreds of times. Many authors, in fact, tack their rejection letters to their office walls like bloody--or, more appropriately, inky--badges of honor.
I almost—if this is the truth or a lie I now tell myself, I’ll never know—didn’t want to get accepted on my first try because what kind of a story would that make for? I can’t give my acceptance speech for the Pulitzer and say, “Oh man, it was such a breeze to get to this point. Everyone loved my work right off the bat.” Rejection is a bittersweet reality in that failure makes for a better success story. The best authors often have the worst time trying to get published. Think: Dr. Seuss.
So, I indulge myself with another cup of tea and all of about three decent tears—until I realize I’ve just done my makeup and the whole crying thing is really affecting the evenness of my bronzer—and I get back to my show.
I press play and she (the blonde I’m currently loving to hate) asks her agent the hard-hitting question all authors want to know: How long until we find a taker? Translation: How long will it be until a house offers up a publishing deal?
Now, I’m thinking, Hit her with the hard stuff, man. Tell her how long it's bound to take. Every writer knows that, even once you’ve got an agent, the hard part is often getting a publishing deal. Your agent could send your manuscript to 20 houses with no bites. The waiting game is often longer than a year.
“Oh, I’d say we’ll find someone in a week.” “A week? Really? I mean, I knew it was good but I didn’t know someone would want to publish it right away?” “Oh yes, it could be published very soon!”
Fuck you. Or, more appropriately, me.
And fuck my bronzer. Because now I’m crying. Crying because, not only did I get my very first rejection—which stings in its own right—but crying because I got my very first rejection as Tits McGee is simultaneously getting the news that I’d give both my breasts, a leg, and my hands (which happen to be my favorite part of my body; I’ve got great nail beds) to hear. And that, my friends, is insult to injury in the purest sense of the phrase.
So, as I sit down to write more chapters today, I can’t help but think how much further I could get with some Botox and a show on Bravo. If only I could get over my fear of needles to the face.