May 27, 2004

My 19th Nervous Breakdown

1) There's this thing that happens when your book sells, where you suddenly feel like you are NOT EVER ALLOWED to have any problems EVER AGAIN and whatever problems you do have you should just STFU (which, in my house, which is full of tiny impressionable children, stands for "silence the fussy ululations") because the thing you have been working for for 10 years has HAPPENED. So. SHUT UP already.

2) But you still have problems.

3) FOR EXAMPLE, you have to get BLURBS. How do you get blurbs, you might ask. WELL! Please see number four!

4) Some people say, "Your editor and your agent will do all that! TRA LA LA" And indeed -- they do -- they write letters to other writers that are in your genre, ones that seem like they would like your work and all, and ask them to read the MS, and if they like it, to say a few kind words. And if you your goal is to HAVE A BOOK PUBLISHED, that's just dandy. But. If your goal is "to have a career as a novelist" you don't just sit there and assume your publishing house and agent are going make that all work out. NO NO. You say to your editor, WHAT CAN I DO, and she says "Make a list of every writer who you sincerely admire who has most influenced your work, and then write to them and ask them to read the book, and, if they like it, to say so to me. Preferably using metaphor and comparison and sound-bite-worthy prose." SO, here comes 5....

5) I made a list. 35 writers. And baby, we have some NAMES here. I mean, you are going to list the 30 - 40 people who have most influenced your work, are you going to say "MY SECOND GRADE TEACHER DEAR DEAR MRS. PRIBBLES!" No. You are going to list people whose writing has PUT YOU ON THE FLOOR, weeping in ecstacy, LICKING their books in a rictus of orgasmic worship. You are going to say Alice Sebold. Terry Kay. Pat Conroy. Barbara Kingsolver. Billie Letts. Anne LaMott. Sheri Reynolds. Lee Smith. Jill McCorkle. Anne Tyler....ETC.

6) I could list all 35. There is not a dog in the bunch.

7) SO THEN. You have to go to the 35 people you have ADMIRED most in the last decade, and say to them "HI! I SINCERELY LOVE YOU! READ ME! AND THEN BLURB ME! PS, NO, REALLY, I SINCERELY LOVE YOU. OKAY WELL, YES, I WANT SOMETHING AND YOU ARE FAMOUS. BUT THAT'S NOT WHY I PICKED YOU, SEE, REMEMBER EARLIER WHEN I SAID I SINCERELY LOVE YOU? WELL! I DO! And you feel like you sound insincere and pestilent to the 35 people in your profession that you ADMIRE MOST.

8) ALSO if you are me, you are very dreadful at asking for help from YOUR OWN MOTHER. Much less strangers.

9) SO. Writing these letters -- it is very stressful, so much so that you call your editor's assistant and weep on the phone (you are too embarrassed to call your editor) and you sound certifiable. SO crazy are you, that in a few minutes your editor comes out of IMPORTANT MEETINGS to call you back and talk you in off the ledge. (Notice how I use second person to DISTANCE myself from the lunatic behavior! Where did you learn that, you ask<-- here you means actual you and not me. From TAYARI JONES who, by the way, is on your list of of 35 and whom you are stalking.<---here you means me.)

10) But today...... The last of the 35 letters is not ONLY written, it is mailed. And it has taken about 20 to 40 minutes EACH to get these letters right and you have been working on them for 10 days now. BUT YOU ARE DONE! AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS A ROAR OF TRIUMPH. Here it comes..... YAHYAHYAH.

11) because now you can go work on your new NOVEL instead of LETTERS and OH MY that's SO much easier. REALLY. And too, even if not one blurb comes from it...there is somethign very satisfying in having a) Contacted your 35 all time favorite living writers and b) knowing you have done what you can from YOUR END to help your beloved little book as it is launched into the HURRICANE that is the market.

SO, Guess I better go do that.

Posted by joshilyn at May 27, 2004 5:59 AM

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a COMMENT! LOL

Your writing style is incredible, girlfriend. I'm guessing your book will be a HUGE success. Now, go get some chokkit and take a breather. Love ya!

Posted by: Wordweaver at May 27, 2004 12:34 PM

I'd like to offer you a pot of coffee and some Peeps, because it looks like you just might not have enough pep to sustain you!!! ;)

Posted by: AGK at May 28, 2004 5:30 PM

Why thanks WW, and AGK, only if they are the CHICKS. All the new shapes, bunnies, pumpkins, all that crap, are abominations in the sight of the Lord.


Posted by: Joshilyn at May 28, 2004 9:51 PM

The chicks indeed, though I'm rather turned on by the fact that I can get Peeps throughout the year these days, rather than just at Easter. Alas, they are usually not chicks. I just put them in my mouth and pretend...

Posted by: AGK at May 29, 2004 10:06 AM