Weddings and Babies and Bachelorettes, Oh My!
After the whirlwind of SBWC, getting requests for partials, and working my butt off to send out those partials, I was ready for a break. Yes, the thoughts in my head went something like this: I should take this time to write something else. I should plot my next novel. I should write some short stories. I should submit things. I should…etc., etc., etc. Instead I took a deep breath and realized I needed to stop pressuring myself for five seconds. Sometimes, you need a break. Sometimes, it’s okay to reward yourself for your hard work.
It just so happened that July was a very busy month for me, socially—I attended two weddings, a bachelorette party, and a baby shower—and the events were the perfect opportunity for me to get my craft on! I may have been taking a break from my novel, but I was not about to hinder my creativity.
Wondering whether the agents had read my partials, when they would get back to me, and what they would say was much less of a nail-biting affair when I had these projects keeping me busy.
I also attended a book release party for Forever, Interrupted. The author, Taylor Jenkins Reid, is the daughter-in-law of a woman in a book group I occasionally facilitate (this week we discuss Alice Munro’s Runaway). While I haven’t read many books in the women’s fiction genre, this page-turner was easy to get caught up in. The protagonist, Elsie, must cope with her husband’s death—after having been married for only two weeks. Taylor chose to switch off between two stories: that of Elsie’s growing relationship with her deceased husband’s mother, and the one in which Elsie and Ben fall in love. As a reader, I was so frustrated, torn between sadness one moment and happiness the next, and back and forth and back and forth. As a reader I was thinking, Why are you doing this to me?! As a writer, I have great respect for Taylor’s ability to jump timelines and engage the reader in flip-flopping emotions.
The reading I attended at the Hammer showcased PEN Center USA’s 2013 Emerging Voices Fellows. I love this program, and I wish I could apply! (Having magazine publishing credits disqualifies me, unfortunately.) A guy in one of my writers’ groups, Eric Layer, was an Emerging Voices Fellow in 2011, and he’s incredibly talented so I was eager to see what this year’s fellows had to offer. My favorite piece was Terrance Flynn’s excerpt from his memoir Dying to Meet You, in which he experiences heart failure while paint-shopping with his partner and his partner’s ex-boyfriend, and then ends up in the hospital with a drug-dealing roommate. The piece was saucy, funny, yet heartfelt, and dealt well with that terrifying subject, death. My other favorite was, no surprise, an excerpt from a YA novel. Lilliam Rivera’s My Shelf Life is a bildungsroman about a Latina in the Bronx. Rivera’s excerpt captured the dialogue and emotions of a young girl who is trying to fit in with the other girls while learning to handle boys. Regardless of race, her piece reminded me of my adolescence, and I hope I can capture similar authenticity in my work.
I did such a good job of occupying myself, I didn’t notice the time passing and suddenly realized I had better follow up with the agents. After a furious Internet search of acceptable follow-up intervals and how to properly compose a follow-up note, I sent several e-mails and held my breath. So far I’ve gotten three rejections and haven’t heard from two agents. The rejections I received were positive, as much as rejections can be positive. But I’ll save that for another post.