Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
“Yeah right. Mike Burmanthorpe, the Jehovah’s Witness,” I laughed. Jehovah’s Witnesses are good people. “Uh, Mike?” Right?”
Mike slowly pulled me onto the bed.
That Samantha woman?
Mike smiled at me. “Are you okay, Avery?” asked Mike.
I’m Sarah. Sarah was depressingly beautiful. “I’m here with Mike.”
“Brother Michael?” responded Sarah in surprise. “Samantha, how are you?” asked Mike.
Mike asked in a whisper. “Sarah and Craig? Mike was actually nodding. “What the frack, Mike?”
“Sit down, Mike.
“Alright,” Steve relented.
Mike was just too fast. “Avery? - Mike.
“Avery, it’s Sarah and Samantha from Kingdom Hall! Wouldn’t Mike be proud, I thought sarcastically. Mike, I thought. Right.
Neither Samantha or Sarah laughed.
Sarah looked offended. “Avery?” “It’s alright,” said Sarah, grabbing my hand. Love? “Avery?” Mike called. “What’s funny?” asked Sarah.
Apparently neither did Mike. Steve yelled. Mike hated to fly. “Achilles!” yelled Steve. Mike and I never fought. Mike wanted to sometimes. Steve laughed nervously.
Mike returned to the bedroom. Mike jumped into bed.
“It’s Samantha and Sarah.”
“It was,” said Sarah. “Please, Avery. Aren’t you Sarah?”
Sarah challenged. “Thank you, Avery. “Sarah?”
“Yes, Avery. “Let’s go, Sarah.”
“Uh yeah, Calvin’s here. Calvin! Calvin grinned.
Who is Steve, I thought.
Run. “Hi Sarah,” I said. Sarah looked paranoid. Sarah looked insistent. “Please, Avery.”
“Sarah, you got some…”
Sarah asked. Sarah took another breath. “Avery,” Mike stuttered, his voice calmer now. Mike’s eyes went cold. Mike shook his head with disgust. “Avery, I’ve changed,” said Mike, turning away from me.
It was Mike’s pillow. “Hi Mike. I’m Avery. “Avery!” exclaimed Marnie.
Ah, Mike. Avery:
Right. “It’s Sarah.”
“Sarah? Like Jehovah’s Witness Sarah?”
“Sarah, what happened? “Sarah! Sarah’s face changed into something angry.
“No, Steve. “Jesus, Steve.
Was Steve right? Calvin? Right? I agreed with Sarah.
“Listen,” pleaded Sarah.
“Well? “Huh,” said Sarah again. Sarah yelled. “Sarah, he hit you. “Right.
Sarah grabbed a cookie.
Lisa’s life. “Of course,” Sarah admitted. My name is Avery.”
“Uh, hi Avery,” replied Sarah, hesitant but playing along. “Super,” said Sarah. “I remember,” laughed Sarah.
“Sarah, Sarah. “Uh, Calvin?” Those eyes.
“Yep,” replied Calvin.
“Sarah is pretty,” said Calvin. Mike. Calvin. Mike. Mike. Mike. Calvin. Mike.
“Sounds deep,” said Sarah. “Okay,” Sarah conceded. Was Sarah right? Were Steve, Calvin and even Mike right too?
“Avery!” Sarah called from the living room.
“You’re not Sarah.”
“No, Avery. Calvin asked.
Sarah yelled. Calvin! It’s Calvin!!”
Calvin? Those eyes. “Calvin is depressed, Avery. “Oh Avery.”
“Let’s go home, Avery.”
I guess this stuff isn't that interesting to anyone who isn't me, but it's still pretty interesting. My favourite thing:
Mike returned to the bedroom. Mike jumped into bed.
“It’s Samantha and Sarah.”
Makes it sound like a filthy threesome scene. Oh Word, you're such a dirty #$%&@. And you may be on to something...
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
It's Rejection Friday and I'm a little worried for my sanity. I'm also a little hung-over from a work party that I never should have gone to in the first place. When the CEO referred to us as "marketing journalists" I swear I felt a piece of my soul die. Actually, “die” is perhaps too strong a word. I suppose it felt more like my soul stubbed its toe, which is a very uncomfortable experience in and of itself.
Either way, the bull$%&# term made me think about selling out, something that I haven’t had to think about in my career before. Not really. I’ve always thought of myself of having what I suppose you could call a sort of moral code. But for the past few months I’ve been working at a place that dares stick the word “journalist” after the word “marketing.” Unconscionable. No matter what media critics may say (and I consider myself to be one), the two should have as little to do with each other as possible. Sure, big corporations pay the bills but journalists, real journalists, don't work for companies who exist for one sole purpose: to sell %$#&. They keep the government on their toes. They give people a voice who otherwise wouldn't have one. They bring us context and history and images that otherwise would be forgotten. Unseen. Invisible. That may sound like idealism, but there is a need for idealism sometimes because sometimes idealism reminds us of what we used to be.
What does this have to do with my book? The bull$%&# term and the selling out? It all made we wonder just how desperate I’ve become to get this book published. If an agent liked it but wanted the thing to be more commercial, would I listen? Would I make the changes no matter how dumb I thought they were? Like adding a shopping spree montage? A bikini wax monologue?
One Toronto agent gave what was the worst editorial suggestion I’ve ever heard: “You wrote about a bar called _______ and described it as ________ and __________. This bar doesn’t exist in Toronto, but your book is set here. You need to use a real bar.”
I didn’t bend to that horrible advice but right now, as Rejection Friday stares at my profile from the calendar on my corkboard and my hangover tries to escape through my temples, I’m not sure how strong I’ll continue to be. Maybe giving up is better than selling out?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
It got worse—So. Much. Worse.—before it got better. The whole situation would have been easier if Avery’s dead mother hadn’t been “one of those.” She may have even left town unscathed if her father taught her how to cope instead of how to bury. It would have been good too, if Mike had broken things off sooner—before they forced their way into Avery’s home, before she dug her nails into her thigh at their droning meetings, before she watched her old life drown in his baptismal water. But nothing’s ever easy when religion and sex and snow and Ikea and baggage—So. Much. Baggage.—are involved.
Hi _________. My name is Id. I’m a professional writer and editor based in Toronto. I have written for _______, as well as several magazines including _______ and ____________. I’m seeking representation for my 86,000-word very funny, dark and obsessively-researched work of upmarket women’s fiction, _____________. My book follows a surreal month in the life of Avery Steel, an emotionally-repressed 24-year-old dealing—ungraciously—with the fallout of her boyfriend’s decision to become a Jehovah’s Witness.
My manuscript was awarded a ___________ from the ____________. Should you be interested in seeing the completed work, I would be happy to send it your way.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Switching the "So. Much. Worse." for just a plain old "so much worse" is a possibility that I'm considering. But I'm feeling sort of dramatic at the moment. Plus, I think the unicycling unicorn (so clever!) kind of likes it.
2. Carolyn Swayze Agency (no response)
3. Anne McDermid & Associates (no response)
4. Penguin (no response)
5. Linda Chester (no response)
6. Janklow & Nesbit (rejection of partial - let me down nicely)
7. Danielle Chiotti (rejection)
8. Donald Maass Agency (rejection)
9. McClelland & Stewart (rejection of partial -- and I was an intern there! Would have made such a great story)
10. House of Anansi (rejection of partial. Was invited to re-submit in the summer, though)
11. Heller Heller Agency (no response to query)
12. Westwood Creative (no response to query)
13. The Rights Factory (rejection of partial – and they gave me a terrible editorial suggestion)
14. Curtis Brown (pitch rejected)
15. Inkwell Management (partial rejected -- very kind though)
16. Trident Media Group (partial rejected)
17. Uber agent Ms. Aragi (query rejected)
18. Vicky Bijur Agency (no response to query)
19. Transatlantic (no response to query)
20. Joanna Stampfel (query rejected)
21. Fine Print Literary (no response to query)
22. Cheney Literary (no response to query)
23. DeFiore & Co. (no response to query)
24. Artists and Artisans (no response to query)
25. The Bent Agency (no response to query)
26. Grove Atlantic (no response to query)
27. Spencerhill Associates (query rejected)
28. Levine Greenberg (no response to query)
29. Emma Sweeney Agency (no response to query)
30. Max Literary (no response to query)
31. SJA (no response to query)
32. Soft Skull (no response to query)
33. William Morris (ha! - no response, like, duh)
34. Johnson and Alcock (no response to query)
35. Random House Canada (rejected -- classy though)
36. United Agents (no response to query)
37. Wylie Agency (no response to query)
38. Harold Ober (no response to query)
39. Kimberly Cameron (no response to query)
40. ICM Talent (no response to query)
41. Fox Literary (no response to query)
42. Hamish Hamilton (rejection of full, although with loads and loads of class and kindness. Love the British.)
43. Christopher Little (no response to query)
44. Dystel (no response to query)
45. Folio Literary Agency (no response to query)
46. Key Porter (rejection of query - nice though)
47. Foundry Media (no response to query)
48. Markson Thoma (no response to query)
49. Nelson Agency (no response to query)
50. Irene Goodman (no response to query)
I promised myself I'd stop submitting once I hit 50 rejections. Sucks to my asthmar.
If you're like me and you're into reading about other writers' rejections (and in some cases, how poorly they've handled it), check out this link. And this one too.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I was very glad to have the chance to read ________. It’s an impressive first novel and a genuinely enjoyable read – sharp, lively and blackly comic, all at the same time. And you have a particularly good ear for dialogue, which is one of the hardest things to get right. So, all in all, it’s a real achievement. I wasn’t sure, though, that it was quite right for ________, mainly because it lacked the depth or edge we tend to look for (we’re unashamedly literary). But this isn’t in any way a criticism of it – rather it just means that we wouldn’t be the right publisher for you. I’m so sorry, and I do hope you find the perfect home for the novel, both here and in Canada. Best of luck!
All good wishes
This e-mail was from the UK where, whether it's a rejection for a novel, a job or a Visa, the art of politesse is not lost. Canadians and Americans could certainly learn a thing or two.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Hi Oprah. I just received your note. I'm so glad you enjoyed my book. Brilliant? Well, normally I prefer the word "genius," but what do I know? (Except nearly everything. Fah fah fah.) Anyways. To answer your question, yes, I would happily consent to you selecting my first novel to be in your little book club. I too think it would be beneficial. Especially for you, mais non? Chortle chortle chortle.
Anyhoo, I'm so glad that you think your viewers will be able to identify with my main character. You must have some rather tragic and disturbed devotees -- how wonderful for you. And yes, of course you may include my book on the required reading list at your leadership academy for unfortunate girls in South Africa. My agent wanted me to tell you to please insist that the young ladies wrap the books securely in The New York Times books section to protect the gold inlay cover copy. (It is real gold, you know. From the same South African mine as your toilet seats, as a matter of fact. Small world, n'est pas?)
Finally, yes, I would love to do lunch with you and "my Gail, I mean Stedman." You could have just erased that error, you know. Backspace, delete, cut and what have you.Oh, Oprah you are too much.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
No, friend of a friend of a friend. I haven't gotten that million-dollar book deal yet. And no, I still don't have that super agent in New York. You're quite right, there are loads of books in the bookstores so you would think that it was rather easy to get a publishing deal. Yes, I suppose stringing some words together shouldn't be too hard at all and yes, a monkey really can do it.
Yes, my boyfriend's sister's boyfriend's cousin, I still am trying to be a writer. I'm not sure why I bother, as a matter of fact. Maybe I should take up a trade. Plumbing, eh? I've never considered it before but perhaps I should look in to it.
Thank you, my local Starbucks barrista. I would like a free pity cup of coffee. You've seen me crying over my laptop again? Oh, how embarrassing. I thought the table near the bathroom was just far enough away. Yes, I do take it with soy. Thank you.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
“I got rejected 466 times before I got my book, The Holy Bible, published by Random House.”
- Jesus Christ
That’s nice, Jesus, but what made you keep trying? Because I'm not so sure that I should. Because this morning, after not really sleeping again, I started to think that I never should have written my book in the first place. That I had no business trying to be a story teller. That I'm an inconvenience upon the marketplace. A sad joke to my friends and enemies. A waste of agents' valuable time, paper and texting minutes.
So what’s the secret, Jesus? What’s the secret to staying in the submissions game? How do I stay positive about my book, Jesus, when everybody else is so negative?
Friday, March 12, 2010
And then I decided to search out one of you to rep my first novel.
And I'm Canadian.
And my book makes no mention of Muskoka chairs and is in no way/shape/form influenced by Margaret Atwood.
So now, dear agent, I hate Fridays.
Your rejection is fine. It's a part of writing life. I'm cool with that. It adds fuel to my fire. But every Friday since I've launched myself head-first into the search for you, agent, my inbox has been getting stuffed full of your no's. Do you know how long it takes for the sting of your rejection to ease up, agent? 48 hours exactly. Do you know how long the weekend is?... You see my point.
Dear agent, I just want you to like me so why are you adding to my misery? Isn't it enough that you've poo-pooed a novel I've spent five years toiling over? Do you have to destroy my weekends, too? Why do you choose Friday to send out your form letter rejections? Why not Monday or Tuesday or even Sunday? Do you hit "send" and then run for the hills once your 4:59 p.m. rolls around? But why, agent? Why? Are you afraid that I might respond to you with crocodile e-tears? Do e-tears make you uncomfortable, agent?