Monday, April 4, 2011

Everyone Needs a Champion

Let's face it, I'm lost.  I don't even know how to get started finding my way back home.  For some reason, I decided to take a path with no roadmap.  And when I started, I didn't know anyone else in my life who had ever taken that road before.  So there I was, blindly barreling down an unmarked, uncharted road with no idea where it ended or the places I would travel through along the way.  I can tell you one thing.  It's a lonely road.  Sparsely traveled.  
I don't know what it is I'm searching for while I travel this road.  Some kind of fulfillment.  Another soul, perhaps, to ease the loneliness.  It's seems counterintuitive, choosing a lonely road in order to find someone to ease my loneliness.  And I can tell you, I am afraid.  Some days I wish I could just die already.  Because it would be so much easier to give up, to let God hold my hand and pull me along.  It seems so much easier than paddling against the current of my life.   
That road I'm traveling feels a lot like the edge of knife and I'm trying to find something to help me balance myself so I don't fall off.  And I feel compelled to rush along that edge instead of taking each step slowly and finding my balance before I take another step.  I mean, have you ever seen someone on a tightrope or a narrow tree that has fallen across a raging river?  The person crossing always seems to practically run across the bridge.  Running seems easier, doesn’t it?  That they are less likely to fall off?  Well, I think that’s my ignorance rushing me along.  My ignorance is my greatest enemy.  It’s like a road sign turned around the wrong way.  Or better yet, it’s like that person on the side of the road you ask for directions, only they don’t have a clue though they point and speak anyway, sending you on a wild goose chase.
I hate being lost.  I feel so out of control.  Lost and lonely.  Is there anything worse?  Probably not, but I have found a few things out along the way.  Though they are not right beside me on the road, I have a few champions who often help me out, shouting out directions or calling me up so that I have a familiar voice to coax me along, urging me to not give up.  It’s too easy to just plop down where I am and hang my head in my hands.  But when those voices call out to me, I sigh and pull myself back up.  It’s still not easy.  It takes a lot more effort to pull myself back up than it would have if I never stopped to begin with.  And I’m still a bit lonely, but knowing I have a few champions in my corner really helps motivate me, keeps me moving along, to find the end of the road and learn from the mistakes I’ve made along the way.  
I have my friends here in town who pat me on the back and reassure me that there are other agents to query, who might be interested in reading my full manuscript even though two have already taken a pass.  Yes, that’s right.  Super Agent X, the one I spoke of here, turned me down.  She was very pleasant, made a few complimentary remarks about strong elements to the narrative and had nothing bad to say except that she didn’t think she could market it as effectively as I would like.  At first, I thought, well I knew that was coming.  I thought I was prepared.  Boy, was I wrong. 
This second rejection on my full manuscript hurt much worse than the first since I had garnered it without any help from anyone along the way.  It was a crushing blow and it devastated me.  So much so that for the first time in my life—and that’s a not so short span of years—I was driven to drink, to drown my sorrows.  For the first time in my life, I took shots of hard alcohol.  Almost as if I was following in the footsteps of my poor misguided protagonist.  How ironic is that?  Funnier still, even though I drank at least half of that bottle of Silver Patron myself, I barely even caught a buzz.  There must be some lesson in there somewhere, right?  Maybe it’s that I should not allow myself to be thrown from the course, even if I am lost.  So here I am, picking myself back up, brushing myself off and craning my ear for those voices, the champions who occasionally shove me from the shoulder back onto the road. 
My husband is one of those champions, though he’s had his faltering moments, as well.  He tries to be stoic and support me even though he’s quite tired of seeing me cry.  He’s the one I have at home whom I see everyday, who gives me a smile and says, “Well, fuck her.  She’s not the only agent out there.”  I know it’s not easy for him either because he cannot be there beside me on the road.  He cheers me on from a distance, unable to steer me the right way because he has no clue which way that is.  But still, he is there. 
My true GPS is my friend, Lisa.  I have spoken of her many, many times.  She is my compass, my true north.  As I’ve said before, I would be completely lost without her, without any hope of finding my way.  She is the only one who also travels this road.  And while she does not stand beside me for the simple reason she is further down the road than I am, she does leave me breadcrumbs along the way. 
She’s been lost on the road many times and for a very long time, but she recently acquired a map in the form of an agent.  So she knows the roadblocks I am experiencing, the stalls and flat tires that slow me down.  She’s experienced them all.  And she cautions me, too.  She’s the big yellow sign that says watch for falling rocks ahead.  Sometimes I’m too busy keeping my head down to take notice and when I fall, Lisa is always, always there to pick me back up, brush me off, turn me back in the right direction and shove me along.  She is my truest champion and has never faltered even once. 
I know it is because she has been there and done that.  But it’s more than just a shove she offers.  Lisa is my one-man cheering squad.  She keeps telling me my book is great and could easily be on a bookseller’s shelf, that it has no problems to speak of.  She says it’s just a matter of finding that one agent who will become my next champion.  That I just need to persevere.  Keep on the road even though that road is long and winding, full of hazards and roadblocks that will slow me down.  She’s always saying she knows I will get published, that I am talented.  And coming from her, man, is that ever a compliment.  So Lisa is the reason that I hoist my big ass from the side of the road.  She’s the reason I keep putting one foot in front of the other, blisters, sprains, broken bones, and all.  She is my champion and I could not find my way down this long, lonely, winding without her. 
           God bless you, Lisa Regan!  

1 comment:

Laila Knight said...

Nancy, I'm so sorry. I've been in your shoes countless times. It is all too frustrating. Tell me if this sounds familiar. The business of publishing is subjective. The concept behind your story is very interesting but not something I wish to work with right now. I can see you've spent a lot of time developing your plot, but this is not something I feel drawn to. There are others, but basically it's all the same thing.

The first couple of times I handled the rejections badly. Not to encourage the habit, but my brand of poison is vodka, preferably diluded in the form of a cosmopolitan. I would love to tell you about my first rejection several years ago. That was with my dream agent X.

You are lucky to have Lisa. Non-writers do not understand what we go through. Always remember that it's not you they're rejecting, just your story. When my darling husband, who has never read my books, tells me that not everyone has the talent for writing, I could ring his neck. I have a friend at work who is very supportive. I told her I would dedicate my first book to her.

This is how I presently handle rejection. It all comes down to what I want in an agent. I'd like someone who is going to be so passionate about what I write that they are going to move mountains for me. If they're looking to do a half-ass job, then I don't want them. So when I receive a rejection, I will be briefly pissed, tell myself that I write because I love the art and no form of rejection can ever take that away from me. Then I take my hubby out to dinner, toast with my favorite merlot to a new beginning, and send out another query in the hopes of finding my dream agent.

I could tell you so much more, but this is your blog...^-^....Good luck, and hang in there.