Thursday, January 8, 2015

The waiting was the hardest part

I broke up with my agent. But it wasn't her, it was me. No, really.

It happened a few weeks ago, and I debated whether or not I should write about it here, you know, publicly. But it seemed dishonest not to, and would fly in the face of why I started this blog in the first place. So there it is. My cool New York agent is my agent no longer.

It sucked at first, but now I'm fine with it. I never really thought it would work out anyways, that getting this agent would result in a book deal. It just felt too dreamy, too perfect. I'm a cynical person, if you haven't already figured that out. It's an attitude I've cultivated to keep my battered heart protected. And it served me well in this instance.

The breakup is also action, progression, motion. It's something at least. Finally, some novel-related momentum, a push out of the mud I was stuck in. 

Nothing dramatic went down that precipitated this breakup. In fact, it was mostly just a lot of waiting. Months and months and oh my god more months of waiting to hear from my agent about my revision. (Here's a tip: if it takes your agent more than six months to get back to you, there is definitely a problem.) The waiting really was the worst part. 

As for the "why" of our breakup, it's pretty simple. My book changed and my agent liked the original draft better. So it just made sense for me to say goodbye and find new representation who was a better fit for my novel as it stands now, not for what it used to be. 

My agent was wonderful, though -- no, more than that, she was a miracle that I still can't believe actually happened to me -- and I'll be forever grateful to her for believing in me. She's focused on representing children's books and young adult now -- another reason why we weren't a good fit any more -- and if that's you, I'd definitely recommend that you pitch her. Here's a link to her web site in case you're interested.

So it's sad, but unavoidable and for the best. The timing, at least, couldn't be better. I get to start off fresh in a new year, a year I've decided to devote entirely to my second novel, Why It Gets Dark at Night. I'm also spicing up my writing life by taking a standup comedy class and hopefully getting back into TV writing again. So, you know, good things are happening.

The end of my relationship with my first literary agent does not mean the end of my first novel, by the way. I've got the manuscript in the hands of some people I deeply respect, and if there's good news to share, I'll be doing that here.

So go forth and write and read and be merry. And know that when one thing ends, another takes its place.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Kubrick and discomfort

The Actual Grady Twins' Dresses From The Shining
or: The Real Reason I'll Never Bear Children

I went to see Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at TIFF yesterday. Aside from the gentleman whose dandruffy shoulder I was doomed to peer over for the duration of my tour -- (Can you just... If you don't mind scooching just a bit to... Excuse me, sir, but... Outta my way, old man!) -- it was a wonderful experience. Black and white production photographs, profit/loss sheets that read like gossip, threatening/entreating letters from Christian groups, costumes from Spartacus, a model of the War Room from my all-time favourite Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, HAL from 2001... there were more than enough goodies to satisfy even the most fanatical fan.

What Kubrick did better than anyone else, in my opinion, is imminent doom. Every second of every one of his films makes me feel like I'm standing on the lip of a volcano, just waiting for the perfect moment to fall in. If I had to sum up his genius in one sentence, this would be it: Stanley Kubrick makes me want the very bad thing to happen.

His films remind me that good art often makes people quite uncomfortable. And that maybe even the artist him/herself needs to be uncomfortable with it, too. Or at least that's what I chose to take away from this exhibit because I've been feeling very uncomfortable about my idea for my second novel. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I haven't been able to bring myself to begin to write it, or even blog about it here. But now I think I'm finally ready to go there. If Stanley can do what's uncomfortable -- and make it sing -- I think I'll give it a try, too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

They make pills for that

My cool sister eating grapes in Italy

Aside from being one of my personal heroes, my younger sister Kathleen is also an intrepid world traveller, and she just started blogging about her adventures.

This post in particular made me laugh out loud. Italian grandpas can get away with anything, can't they?

I see a travel book deal in Kathleen's future, and a serious inferiority complex in mine. But I'll be okay, really. Apparently they make pills for that?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Girl With The Mr. Darcy Tattoo

These tattoos are a surefire cure for the "wannabe novelist" blues.

(I tried the brilliant "£10,000 a Year!" tat first, of course, but cocked the bloody thing up.)

Thank you for this gift, Alana. You are worth more than a thousand wet white shirts! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Will the real Emily Saso please stand up?

My mom emailed me today:

So of course I dropped everything and googled my own name, and here's what popped up:
Harpur Palate would like to congratulate Emily Saso, winner of the Undergraduate Flash Fiction Contest.
Her winning short story is posted up there. It's pretty good, which is a relief because, well, my name is on it. And her bio is there as well:
Emily Saso is currently an undergraduate at Binghamton University majoring in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing, and minoring in Cinema. Emily is originally from New York City, where she lives with her two mothers and her dog.
When I read this the first time, I felt like I was in the shallow end of a deep dream, the kind that midnight cheese brings on, and my brain flooded with questions: Did I arrange myself a double life in NYC/Binghamton and forgot about it? Is NYC Emily Saso the evil one, or am I? WTF is flash fiction anyways? And Why the hell is my mother googling me? 

But then my desperate ego took over, and those questions no longer mattered. Because YIPPPEEE! Emily Saso wrote a story and it won a prize! I don't care that it wasn't me -- Emily Jane Saso of Toronto, Canada, and two heterosexual parents. My name is on a winner, goddammit, and no one can deny me that.

I need to know more about this other Emily Saso, of course, but this URL is all I can find. So I'm putting this call out to the universe: Emily Saso, thee of New York City and two mothers, please get in touch with me if you read this. You're a writer, and I'm a writer, which makes this cheese-dream situation too weird an opportunity to pass up.

Friday, June 13, 2014

i don't deserve capitalization

oh horror of horrors.

i just opened a word document from 2006 -- way back when I first started toying with the idea of writing some sort of novel -- and i found this phrase:

"... like lightning unbound." 

i was planning on using that! in a book! with my name on it!


no offence to Lynn Connolly, of course:

i'm sure it's a fine novel.

Monday, May 26, 2014

An uncomfortable shopping experience

The sun kicked the polar vortex’s ass this weekend — a win I celebrated by rolling my jeans up an extra inch:

 What I've looked like every summer since I turned 13.
(Actress Shailene Woodley playing me.)

Aside from taking in the sunshine, I went to the Toronto Indie Arts Market at the Gladstone Hotel. It was nice to see all kinds of creative folks peddling their wares, but it was also stressful. The weather was too perfect, I think, because shoppers were few and far between. I felt so guilty passing by all the tables of stuff that I would never normally buy. Handmade cards for no particular holiday. Nihilist comics. Poetry books with boobs on the cover. Illustrations that were fantastic but too small to hang on my walls. And did you know that people still made zines? A LOT of people?

To be clear: these artists/writers weren't desperate. They were clearly talented, had glorious tattoos and they didn't seem too bothered by the thin crowds. But I know what it feels like to want an audience for your art. It’s a need, and it's primal and sweaty. And having my own need reflected back at me, no matter how many tattoos it was hidden behind? Well, it made me kind of uncomfortable.

My friend agreed with me, although for her own reasons, and as we took a breather in a room filled with Biggie Smalls photos, we agreed to get the hell outta there and go for smoothies.

The fair wasn't a total bust, though, because I met author Erin Bedford. I first stumbled across Erin while doing one of my standard Google searches — something probably like “giving up novel writing” or  “loser wannabe writer quit” — and this blog post came up:


Erin wrote and self-published a novel called Fathom Lines that I enjoyed as much as anything else I’ve read this year, so I was excited to meet her in person and pick up a few copies. Here she is at the book fair (Note the fries and beer taps behind her. Isn't she just so your kind of person?):

If you like Alice Munro, I highly recommend Fathom Lines. Erin's use of language is downright jealousy-inducing and she's created beautifully realized and relatable characters. If I was a publisher or agent, I'd be kicking myself that I missed out on the chance to work with Erin at the beginning of her career. She deserves as many readers as she can get. You can buy her novel here. (And you can buy a heck of a smoothie here.)