Friday, August 25, 2006

Everything Changes

I'm starting to repeat on t-shirts. I don't think I've plumbed the full depths of my collection, but most mornings, I just grab whatever's easiest to reach, which is usually what's on the top of the stack from my most recent bout of laundry, which means wearing the same ones over and over. Maybe if I ever get around to that major house reorganization I've been talking about (and daydreaming about -- the Ikea catalog is very inspiring), I'll get to the rest of the collection.

But before I get to the reorganization, I have to get book 4 rewritten. I thought I nailed it because, unlike my usual first drafts, stuff happens in the first 100 pages. Lots of stuff! Unfortunately, it's not stuff that actually relates to the plot, so I have to rearrange things a bit. I think I'm a bit of a fangirl for my own books (which is good, because if I'm not, how can I expect anyone else to be?), and I love these characters so much that I'd be willing to watch them just hanging out, talking and doing their laundry. I suspect there are a few readers out there who'd be willing to do that, too. But it doesn't make for a very exciting book. Let's just say there may be lots of deleted scenes for the web site from this one, for all the fangirls to enjoy without them bogging down the book.

And no, there weren't any actual laundry scenes. That's just my all-purpose metaphor for normal life stuff that doesn't involve saving the world. Maybe I should change that to "eating dinner," because that was what my agent suggested cutting, all those scenes of people eating. I pointed out that my main character is from the South, and (here's a little hint) the book involves some members of her family, and THAT'S WHAT WE DO!!! I think there's even something in the Bible about wherever two or more are gathered, food has to be served (or maybe not, but there should be). Meals are the major form of social interaction in our culture. You can learn a lot about a person by having dinner with him. But I admit, there may have been a little too much food in that book, possibly a result of the fact that I was on my pre-conference diet at the time I wrote it (and now I'm on my pre-class reunion diet).

My agent did give me a little bit of a scare when she started the conversation giving me feedback on the draft by suggesting that I ask to have my deadline moved. But everything she said made sense, and the ideas are already clicking in my brain, so I think I can do it. And because I am very, very stubborn at times, I'm now determined to meet that original deadline, even if it means giving up sleep or, if I get really desperate, Television Without Pity (I have my priorities). Besides, my life gets insane after that original deadline, so I'm not sure moving it would do me much good. I figure if I cut out the temper tantrum/whining/kicking-and-screaming part of the revision process, I'll save tons of time.

In the "my, how things change" category, I got an e-mail this morning from an editor at another publisher, asking me to read one of her author's books for a cover blurb. In her message, she talked about what a big fan she is of my work. Um, but she REJECTED my work a couple of years ago, with a very harshly worded rejection. In fact, she was borderline mean and very dismissive of the entire concept. But I like the author of the book she wanted me to blurb, and I'm really excited about that book, so of course I said I would (come on, wouldn't you want a sneak peek at a book that's intrigued you from the first time you heard about it? Getting to read books long before publication is one of the BEST parts of my job.). In a weird, roundabout way, success really is the best revenge, because it was enough for me that I was successful enough with the work she REJECTED that she wanted me to endorse one of her authors' books. We'll see if I can resist the temptation to remind her that she was such a huge fan of me that she didn't want anything to do with my book. Too bad the name didn't ring a bell for me until I had already said I'd do it, so I missed the chance to make her sweat. They always warn authors not to burn bridges in this business because you never know when you'll have to work with an editor or agent in the future, since they all move around so much. I wonder if editors or agents ever think in those terms, that the author they rejected with a snide remark might one day be an author they need for a cover blurb or some other favor. Today's rejection may be tomorrow's bestseller who wields a lot of power in the industry. I think most of us recognize that rejection is part of the business, and we don't usually hold grudges, but when a rejection goes out of its way to be mean, we can't help but remember, and I have a very long memory (and a spreadsheet). Not that I am a big bestseller who wields any power (yet!), but a girl can dream.

I figure I'm hitting some success benchmarks: one of my books is in Target, another book is going back to press more than a year after release, and now an editor who rejected me is asking me for a favor. Not shabby.

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