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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Talk Thursday: Growing Up

Well, I could waste this whole post on fond memories of North Dakota or truly horrible memories of Utah, but I thought I'd skip it. I thought instead I'd let y'all know that I don't seem to be done yet.

Growing up, I mean. Because I spent about three hours today completely incapable of opening an email.

Lemme back up a sec. Y'all will no doubt recall that I went to the Pen to Press Writers Retreat in New Orleans at the end of May. I met three agents there and one editor who wanted to see my stuff, so I've been sending out these submission packages. Three down, one to go (the hardest and most complicated, so it's been taking me a lot longer to put it together - but it WILL leave the laptop before the end of August. I repeat, it WILL leave the laptop before the end of August.) Having temporarily conquered Scaley, the T-Rex of Anxiety, I completely forgot he had an evil twin. Maybe we can call this one Fang, the Velociraptor of Paralysis or something. He lurks unseen on the clifftops, not nearly as big and imposing as his brother, but prone to swooping down on you when you least expect it and locking you up at your keyboard like a goldfish in an ice cube.

I got a response from one of the agents, see. And I completely freaked. I think, on some level, I had forgotten that sooner or later, they were, you know, supposed to respond.

I immediately tried to think of alternatives to opening this email. Let's see, I could forward it to Joan. No, impossible to do in Gmail without opening it first. I could call Joan at work, give her my password over the phone and ask her to hack my account. Then she could open the email, read it, and tell me what it said. Or hey, I could delete it unread. Then I'd never know, would I? Well, thank God I didn't go that route. I've at least made it past that developmental phase of "if I can't see it, it doesn't exist." That makes me what, about four?

Finally, I emailed Joan and asked her to tell me to open the email. This is very silly, but it usually works. Hey, I grew up in Utah, remember? Given a direct command by someone in authority (wear a sweater, say your prayers, stop pouting, spread your legs) I tend not to argue. I've been known to call my OA sponsor and tell her to tell me not to eat something. That works too. Still, you'd think by the age of fortysomething I'd be perfectly capable of telling myself what to do.

Anyway, Joan emailed me back and told me to open the damn email. Which I did. And it said:

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for letting me consider your writing sample. I didn’t make the connection with your story that I would need to request more, but please keep in mind that another agent may feel differently. I wish you the best of luck in placing your work.



Seriously, what was the big deal? Did I expect there to be, I dunno, a long rant about how I clearly don't know what I'm doing and should consider selling used cars or maybe working for a law firm? I doubt very many literary agents have that kind of time. And I was a little bit snarky about the fact that I got a form rejection when I distinctly remember we chatted about jewelry and body art before we got down to business, but I got over it.

So why, then, all this wasted energy? Seriously, am I age-frozen at about seven? Little kids freeze when they think they're in trouble. Little kids and some cats I've known.

The other day it occurred to me that I'm late all the time. Well, that's occurred to me before (and doubtless many people who know me), but for the first time I wondered what, exactly, I'm getting out of being late all the time. Clearly if it were all negative I'd have stopped a long time ago. So there must be a positive. And I think it's the adrenaline rush. It's much more exciting to be trying to get somewhere before the clock strikes or the gate falls or whatever bad's going to happen starts to happen than it is to just leave ten minutes early so I'll be sure to get there on time. Negative attention being better than positive attention? That might make me about ten.

Oops, make that twelve and a half. An attractive coed just walked by and I looked up for half a second. Okay, back to preadolescence. Besides, I'm late.


Anonymous said...
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Cele said...

Jen, I have a friend who is a professor in neurolinguistics, he would tell you you're an in time person not a through time person. You show up in your own time. It take all types to make the world go round.

As to the rejection. A good book starts with a thousand... oh wait wrong quote. There always has to be a first one (response of any kind) thankfully it wasn't hate mail. No one wants to be rejected, no one wants to find out their baby didn't pass, that's not easy to read. But you read it, you will go on and grow from each experience. Keep knocking on those doors.

Jen said...

That's the strange thing. It's not the rejection itself; this wasn't even the first one. I think I've had at least 25? 26? for the same book and the actual rejection is no big deal. It's the FEAR of the rejection, or the anticipation, anyway. It's like stage fright. Or fear of velociraptors. Or something.

I like the idea of being an in time person, though. Beats hell out of trying to be an on time person. In Spanish they say, "El tiempo me causa tarde." The time caused me to be late. Hee!!

Psamanthe said...

OHHH....MY...GODS....Jen!!!!! You're human.. Welcome to the species! lol