Fair warning: I’m going to have exactly zero chill about this. Speaking of chill– I bought a bottle of champagne on Sunday, January 28th 2018 and stashed it in the fridge with a stern warning to Alex that it was not to be touched until I’d signed with a literary agent.
This blip of self discipline probably doesn’t sound like an insurmountable life challenge, but Alex and I are the kind of people who can’t buy cases of wine or more than one box of Girl Scout cookies at a time. Life’s short, you gotta treat yo self with lots of Carpe Yolos and such.
But this was a special bottle of champagne– not just because it cost slightly more than the usual $14 I’m willing to spend– but because I was sending my first round of query letters the following day and I needed a mental good faith investment that I might actually be capable of bringing a desired outcome into my life. The next morning I sent five queries via email and over the next couple weeks I got five rejections whilst congealed juice from a baked sweet potato formed a sad sticky puddle near my neglected bottle of champagne.
I was ripe for intervention, so I bought a query critique from Jane Friedman (if you’re a writer, you’ve probably been on her site at least once. She’s full of resources and pretty much a publishing guru). A week later she sent back an edited version of my query, crossing out all the stupid and useless bits (my words, not hers).
Turns out query letters– JUST LIKE LIFE– are immediately improved by removing things that don’t need to be there.
I sent a few more queries before we went to India and Nepal because travel is a built-in distraction from the angst of waiting. This time, there was some interest and I got to experience the fun of sending my book proposal via iPhone via spotty wifi via Jaipur. When we got back to the states, and I recovered from jet lag, I sent another round. Two days later I got a reply to one of the most recent queries I’d sent, asking to schedule a call. The next day I got on the phone and was offered representation.
My bottle of champagne was like a deleted scene from Alice and Wonderland, softly mewling from the fridge “Drink Me, Drink Me.” But nothing was official so I couldn’t let myself. Instead, I bought a less expensive bottle of champagne. Alex was all “this is exciting, what do you want for dinner? Let’s go out!”
But I was like “YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT FOR DINNER.”
Because picheezitsa tastes like joy and Target’s only a ten minute drive away.
A week later I was all “Yes, Yes, A Thousand Times Yes” and accepted the offer of rep. Alex was like “champagne time?” and I was like “still waiting to sign a contract” so instead I drank this ridiculous can of millennial bubbles instead.
Finally, last Friday, I signed the contract. So you know what that means.
I’m beyond excited to be represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein, President of McIntosh & Otis in NYC. When I first read the name of their agency I was like “this sounds charming and also makes me want a warm cookie,” then I read about their history: They’re actually the 2nd oldest literary agency in the US and were founded– WAIT FOR IT– by two women in the 1920s who quit their jobs at another agency and founded their own because they were less than pleased by the practices at their old place.
Alex was like “this sounds like feminism” and I was like “wait for it” because a few years later they signed John Steinbeck, whose estate they still manage, along with a bunch of other iconic people we’ve all heard of and/or at least pretended to read.
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty stoked. And maybe some people would advise against what sounds like gloating but I don’t know… life is so full of peaks and valleys (and waiting for it) that I think we should celebrate our wins when they come along. Because it’s only March and I’ve achieved my #1 goal for 2018– you know it’s legit when you write it on a sticky note and tape it above your desk.
I tend to operate on an emotional delay, not allowing myself to respond too quickly in the moment whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. This must be one of my custom habits of self-preservation or a skewed sort of Fight or Flight response because I was immediately like “Are we sure this is real? Don’t get your hopes up, Self.”
But Alex wasn’t having it.
“This is what you’ve been working towards for 4 ½ years,” he said. “Almost Every. Single. Night. And here you are. So it’s time to celebrate.”
He’s not wrong. Except I’ve been working towards this for a lot longer than 4 ½ years. I just got distracted a few times.
So, please celebrate with me. Because the second you hit a goal you’re just staring at the back of another goal you want to hit. And it’s going to keep going on like that forever and ever until I die– so I’ll take my wins when I can get them, and I’ll drink varying quantities and qualities of champagne along the way.
Before I go: Quick shoutouts to Hedia Anvar for being my daily Whatsapp therapist and talking me down from various meltdowns whilst reading and re-reading all my stuff. To Jessica Ziegler of Science of Parenthood for having a kitten, great taste in cheese, and being a kick-ass beta reader. To Kristen Mae (whose incredible book Objects in Motion just released!) for slicing up my writing and letting me know when I sounded like a way worse person than I actually am (hopefully).
And to all of You. Because writing this blog has helped me refine my voice, figure out how to tell my story, and trust that someone out there might actually care to hear it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank YOU.
P.S. If you were on my Aussome Posse email list (exclusively for book announcements and promo) then you would’ve already known about this last week, about an hour after I signed the contract, because like I said ZERO CHILL. Sign up here.
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