Sunday, June 12, 2011

My real inner dialogue the night I heard back from the agent

This is it. I know it. This time when I open my hotmail account there will be an email from Ms. X. It's been nearly four months since she requested my manuscript. I've behaved myself by not nudging her; I understand how busy a London-based literary agent must be. I have waited so patiently. I am so incredibly Zen.

But tonight is the night she's going to give me her answer. I feel it in my gut! Not like the other times when I had this same feeling but it turned out to be that second burrito I shouldn't have had at dinner. Burritos are nice. I hope Ms. X turns out to be as nice as a burrito.

I hope she liked my memoir. And, really, what's not to like about it? It's a love story. It has an exotic setting. It's well-crafted. It's mostly true. OK, so who cares if I wrote that Leo baked the marijuana cake when I know very well that a certain Costantino did? I mean, who can pronounce Costantino anyway? Besides, most people wouldn't even remember such a detail from their university days.

What's my password again?

Let's see. What the...? Oh, my god, there is an email from Ms. X. Madonna santa, I'm not ready for this! I'm on vacation with a three-year-old and no husband. I hardly have time to brush my teeth at the end of the day. Now it's 9:43 p.m. and I'm in my pyjamas. What on earth possessed me to open my hotmail at this hour, right before bed? I must be insane, or a masochist, or both. Now I won't be able to get to sleep. Don't you dare get excited because obviously I'm not crazy enough to actually read the email right now. Whether good or bad news, reading it would be as suicidal as throwing away a perfectly good night's sleep. And I can't afford for my dark circles to get any darker. I need a tan.

The subject line is the title of my manuscript, "Lost in the Spanish Quarter". What does that mean? It's so sterile. There's not even a "Re:" for reply. If she wanted to represent my book, wouldn't she have indicated so in the subject line? Something like "Lost in the Spanish Quarter - Congratulations, it's a big fat YES!" Not very professional, though. I can see there's an attachment. What does that mean? Is it a contract to sign me on? Or is it a more personalized rejection letter with a list of helpful suggestions?

I'd better log off before I get too tempted to open the email. I'll check it calmly in the morning, after I've had my beauty sleep. In the meantime, I'll just lie down here on the bed in the dark and try to relax. Yoga breathing. See? I've already forgotten all about it. What's that sound, a mosquito? My son snoring? Geez, it's hot tonight. I bet it never gets this hot in London.

So let's think about it logically. What are my chances that this particular agent will take me on? Landing an agent is a long shot, but based on what I know about her, we're a perfect match. That gives me approximately a 75% chance of a rejection and a whopping 25% chance of a yes. The math is clear. So at this point, I'm only 75% mentally prepared for a rejection and cannot allow myself to open Ms. X's email until I'm 110% prepared for a rejection. That means I have 35% more work to do to get my head there. It's simple arithmetic.

This yoga breathing isn't working.

OK, let's look at it from a more spiritual perspective. There's always balance in the universe. My son and I got free flights to come here to Washington. If that was our windfall, then I can't possibly be given another one so soon. So it must be a no. But hang on, while flossing tonight I loosened my root canal filling and now it really does seem my whole tooth is finally about to fall out. The universe might have me sacrifice a tooth for a book deal. I would be OK with that. It's just a canine. How much would a dental implant cost anyway? The first few royalties might take care of that. In any case, I've already done my publicity shots with a full set of teeth. I just won't smile at the book launch.

Oh my god, am I still awake? This is ridiculous. I can't wait till morning. I might as well get it over with and read the darn thing. But I can't do it alone. What time is it in New Zealand? Will Husbando be back from work yet?


OK, so it's a no. But did I really need to break down like that on the phone? How embarrassing. But then again, Husbando has seen me at my worst. I gave birth in front of him, after all. No, wait. I had a epidural so I actually felt pretty OK. This is uglier. I'm in tears. My dark circles are decidedly worse. I'm turning forty in two weeks so it's impossible now that I'll get a book deal while I'm still in my thirties. I'll be one of those toothless old ladies writing about having an Italian lover when they were in their twenties. How depressing. I wonder if "dejection" is a word. If so, funny how it rhymes with "rejection". I wonder if I'll ever be able to sleep again.

I need a burrito.


  1. Ah Heddi, I take it was a "no" then? So disappointed for you. Your story may not get published this time around, but it is always yours.

  2. Sadly it was a no, Mary Anna. I'm disappointed too...but I have to keep things into perspective: we're all thankfully happy and healthy! Thanks for your compassion and your encouragement. I need it! :)

  3. That sucks hugely!!!! Really sorry to hear that. Sending you hugs xo

  4. Thanks, Christina, you're the best :)

  5. Hi Heddi,
    from the comment you left on my blog I can see you speak Italian perfectly well, so I am going to be "unpolite" and write in Italian, if you don't mind :)
    Il tuo post mi ha fatta sorridere, ma anche un po' intristire, perche' ho fatto il tifo per te fino alla fine. Ci ho sperato, insieme a te.
    Magari io non sono nessuno per dirtelo, ma hai davvero molto talento nello scrivere, si nota gia' solo da questo post. Non smettere di crederci, non mollare...In un campo come questo ricevere rifiuti e' normale, forse ne hai gia' ricevuti, forse ne riceverai altri, ma non mollare. Te lo dico perche' anche io ho sogni simili ai tuoi, per questo mi sono sentita cosi' vicina a te, mentre ti leggevo. Anche io ricevo rifiuti e delusioni, ma anche piccoli, piccolissime soddisfazioni ed e' per quelle che continuo a crederci, che continuo a tentare.
    Per me una soddisfazione e' un complimento da una perfetta sconosciuta per esempio che un giorno, per puro caso, capita sul mio blog e lascia un commento.
    Hai mai pensato di "autopubblicarti", sfruttando internet e la fama che hai tramite il blog?
    In Italia abbiamo un sito che permette di autopubblicarsi a proprie spese (senza bisogno di editori per capirci)...Potresti vendere il tuo libro online e farti pubblicita' col blog...Non e' molto, ma da qualche parte bisognera' pur partire, no?
    Non mollare, credici!!
    Take care xxx

  6. Cara Carol, a quest'ora mi mancano le parole per ringraziarti per le bellissime parole che hai avuto per una 'perfetta sconosciuta' come me. Quello che mi hai scritto mi ha commosso e incoraggiato e fatto venire un po' le lacrime agli occhi. Grazie, grazie.
    Hai ragione: di delusioni in questo campo, ce ne sono tante e bisogna farsi la pelle dura, che non e' una cosa facile per un Cancro come me. E hai anche ragione che non bisogna lasciarsi scoraggiare e che serve anche un po' di 'lateral thinking' come ad esempio l'autopubblicazione, che non ho certamente scartato.
    Ma non hai ragione su un solo punto: non ti ho trovata per puro caso - almeno dal mio punto di vista - ma tramite la tua generosa e bella traduzione dei testi di Noemi, che stimo davvero molto e con la quale spero un giorno di poter prendere un caffe' a Torino.
    Allora, nuova amica scrittrice, mi fara' molto piacere col tempo scoprire quali sono questi tuoi sogni letterari. Sei brava davvero, hai uno stile scorrevole e avvincente.
    Il bello e' che il piacere dello scrivere e' qualcosa di magico che nessuno ci puo' togliere. Non e' vero?
    Grazie di cuore,
    P.S. Ti copio questo commento nel tuo blog caso mai non torni su questo post a controllare la risposta.

  7. Is one allowed to say "Fuck" in this space? Or "shit"? "Bollocks"? "Bugger"? "Friggin' shite"? Sorry but these is mainly what comes to my mind right now. No burrito involved, though; just a so-so-sandwich for lunch and way too much heat (35 °C, even with the air-conditioning on, it's hard; and step out for the hourly fag is, well, ugh unsayable).
    But. You.Will. Make. It.
    Okay? You hear me? You'll make it big and fat, and that London-based sl... will eat her rejection letter.
    Hugs from currently unlivable Paris.

  8. Dear Dieter, you might be the world's best cheerleader. Believe me when I tell you that your words echo in my head all day long, they are that powerful. I wish we lived closer so I could stop in and give you a big fat hug! h.