I have to just say I love Manhattan. I know it’s a little dirty. I know it’s crowded. I know it’s loud. And I love it! Some people say they are small town girls or big city girls; well, I am an *any* city girl. I am thrilled to go anywhere and experience it for what it is. This is why I can find contentment living at the brink of nowhere, and still love going to a place where one subway can hold more people than live in my town.
Central Park is simply beautiful and I spent five romantic hours walking the park with my cute husband. We lost ourselves in the park and still didn’t see everything. Ah well . . . just an excuse to return sometime. We went to see the play, Wicked, and enjoyed it very much. I still feel a little guilty since that whole day centered around what Julie wanted to do. I dragged my parents and husband all over the place and it was all about me. Selfish, aren’t I? Yeah, but we had fun anyway, so it was okay.
And I know . . . no one really cares about my travelogue; you all want to know how the writer’s conference thing went. So here goes. Rutger’s one on one conference was interesting. It’s a different format than I have ever seen in a conference in that there really weren’t workshops or “writing classes.” It started with breakfast. All the authors and writers met in one room and all the editors and agents met in another (likely to gear up for dealing with desperate writers).
Next we had an author speak to us.
Then we went into our one on one assignments. Every author was paired up with either an agent or an editor. My editor was from Harper Collins. I was excited to be paired up with her and liked her very much, but am I going to be submitting to her? No. Here’s why: She went through her previous projects with me while we were taking a moment to get to know each other and I don’t think my writing fits with her clientele. Since I write what I want to write and what pleases me, I can’t change that in order to please one editor (not that she asked me to; she was very polite and lots of fun to chat with).
First lesson learned: I do not necessarily write what will be wanted by everyone. This means when an agent or editor writes back to a query saying, “We don’t think you’re the right fit for our company.” I can now believe them and understand what they mean instead of taking it personally and thrashing and gnashing over it. Sometimes it really is all about the fit.
Next I went to lunch and found myself in between two agents who knew eachother and were good friends. In order for them to converse, they had to talk through me. I carefully joined their conversation (carefully means I wasn’t obnoxious and shoving my manuscripts over their salads, and means I made sure I made comments that were pertinent to THIER conversations). They were polite and included me in the conversation. They were fabulous lunch companions. Their names were Jessica and Nadia . . . charming–both of them. I loved hanging out with them and will be submitting to them this week.
Second lesson learned: Never nibble at your lunch when there are friends to be made.
From there we had five on fives which is five authors sitting at a round table with five agents/editors (a nice mix of both) This was an opportunity to ask questions and find out all the things you ever wanted to know about submitting, writing, whatever. Crickets were heard at my table at the beginning. No one said anything and I have to be honest no matter how arrogant it sounds, I didn’t have any questions. This is not to say I know it all, but that I am not a new writer. I have four published books. I do have some idea about how it all works. The only questions I had were, “Will you be my agent?” and “Will you publish my book?” Naturally these are the two questions I cannot ask without looking as stupid as such questions deserve. Just to initiate actual communication at our table, I went ahead and asked a few of the more competent questions we get over at Writing on the Wall. One of the questions (though not competent, but one I am intersted in) was what is the difference between YA and middle grade. The answer: There is no answer. HA! They all had different ideas and changing opinions of what the differences were. I chuckled at that. Several of the agents and one of the editors at my table will be receiving a submission from me this week. I enjoyed talking to them and listening to them. I was surprised that no one else asked any questions until our time was nearly up.
Lesson number three: If you have an opportunity to speak to people who could impact your career, have something prepared to say before you get there.
The most fascinating aspect of this conference was watching the interaction between the agents and editors. I never really considered how important their networking was until I watched them exchange cards and phone numbers. Their entire existences depend on their ability to work together and it truly interested me to observe that mutualism.
The bottom line was that I am glad I went. It wasn’t as I’d anticipated and I can’t say if I would go again or not, but for this one experience, I believe it was worth it. If nothing else I got a wicked cool vacation and some really needed face time with my husband. Getting away together is tough because I love having the kids with us and feel bad when they don’t get to experience fun things with us. But I firmly believe every couple needs time away to be adults.
Oh and as an interesting aside, a few weeks ago my website was taken over (which is why some comments are missing from the last post . . . they got lost in the transfer from web hosting servers). During this time I had been querying agents I’d researched and felt pretty excited about. One of them went to my site while it was in the control of an errant acupuncturist. Temporary mayhem followed. The agent and I worked everything out and she requested a full manuscript.
As luck would have it, she was also at the one on one conference. I made sure to say hello. It was nice to put a face to the name behind the email exchanges. She is defintiely someone I could work with if given the chance.
No, I didn’t come home with a four book deal (rats) OR an obscenely huge advance (double rats) but I regret nothing.
PS. I hit 21,000 words on my work in progress!
So last March, I applied to the Rutger’s University One on One Writer’s conference where I get to meet agents, Editors, and Newbery authors. Add that to the fact that Rutger’s University is a stone’s throw from Manhattan and you have the recipe for one wicked cool vacation. In order to go this conference, I basically had to send them everything I would normally send to query an agent or editor. So they got writing samples, my query letter, synopsis–everything.
And I waited.
While waiting, it didn’t ever occur to me that I might not get accepted into this little day school for writing. After all, we’ve already established that to write is to walk on that fine line of egomania and manic depression and as far as this conference was concerned, I strayed to the egomania side.
And months flew by with no word. Then I get an email from one of those in charge of the conference letting me know I failed to send in a SASE. %^$#@!!!! How sheepish do I feel? Baaaaa-aaadly sheepish. But I’m still not worried, right? After all, I am Julie Wright, author of four novels and winner of several writing awards. Why would they turn me down when I obviously have so much to offer?
Enter HUSBAND– stage Wright.
Normally my Mr. Wright is the only thing that keeps me from ingesting cyanide. But he has his days of stating what is brutally obvious to him when I am being brutally oblivious. “Babe,” he says. “Why would they ask you to send a SASE if they were going to accept you. Why wouldn’t they just state you were accepted in the email?”
Oh the wretched logic as I plummet from my self-imposed pedestal. But I didn’t stay down too long. After all I have several really fabulous bites looking at my Hazzardous Universe series right now and I’m working on other novels, and I simply don’t have time to worry about a writer’s conference. PPPHHT! Who needs ‘em!
I do. Of course. I am just needy like that and I really *wanted* to go to this conference where I can be in New York and doing writer business type stuff and feeling validated in the career I’ve chosen.
So naturally I spent some time meandering on the manic depression side of a writer’s life.
And then the SASE arrived in my mailbox. Mr. Wright calls them love letters. I wonder if he thinks that’s funny . . .
I opened it, feeling that sickness that comes with envelopes with my name and address on them written in my own handwriting.
It’s an acceptance . . . Yeah BABY! It’s an acceptance! In a SASE!!!! Who knew good news ever came in those things?
This is awesome for many reasons.
- Mr. Wright was wrong about something. This rarely happens and so is a moment to celebrate (or to at least gloat over).
- My parents and husband decided to come with me so we can all enjoy New York (And we aren’t taking cash this time due to the being pick pocketed on the subway deal that happened last time we were there)
- It means my writing does have merit after all (phew)
- I found out that a SASE doesn’t always contain form letters and personal rejections that feel worse than the form letters.
- Did I mention I’m going to New York?
Pack the bags baby!
So my author friends struck up a conversation on the woes of abridged audio books. I’ve heard them whine whine whine about this before, but never paid attention. After all . . . I’ve never had an audio book, and I feel they should be grateful to have something so cool.
Except now things are a little different. I am slated for an audio book for the novel, Eyes Like Mine, coming out in February. I am so wicked thrilled to have an audio book. I grin stupidly every time I think about it.
The thing is . . . it’s abridged. The book is just over 90,000 words. The abridged version–45,000 words.
Yeah. My math isn’t so hot, but even *I* know that means HALF. Yes, gentle readers, half is a lot of words. And then once I cut all those words out, I have to try to piece it back together in some way that makes sense, with a logical flow of plot development and proper character depth and motivation. I owe all my friends chocolate and apologies. How do you cut a book in half and expect it to be the same?
It’s like the baby brought before King Solomon. No good mother wants to see her child chopped in half. No good author wants to see their book butchered, and worse–have to be the one doing the butchering.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m still excited about the audio book. It’s the pain I’m afraid of. I determined I’d better get started soon because I have the sneaking feeling this is going to take some serious time.
But I can’t start this week . . . or next. Tomorrow, I am speaking at a youth conference and really should be working on my presentation so I don’t bore several hundred teenagers to sleep. And for the rest of this month I have to finish my work in progress just so I can say I did. It may not be a good draft, but it’ll be a done draft. Good can always come later, right?
I know the committee meets in the morning or early afternoon based on the times Kirk (my editor) calls me to give me news. So at 3:30 I realized it has to be a “no” and Kirk doesn’t know how to break the news to me.
Then an email popped up in my box.
It was from Kirk.
My hands got all sweaty and my arms went numb as I clicked the email open.
And the answer is . . .
I still don’t know.
How do you like that? Kirk said the committee was going slow and he’d likely have an answer for me tomorrow. Is the suspense killing you guys as much as it’s killing me?
Yeah . . . I didn’t think so.
Regardless of the answer, it’ll be a relief to put me out of my misery.
In the mean time, I need a new laptop. Anyone have suggestions or cautions on laptops they just love and can’t live without, or ones they hate and would never deign to touch again? I need an *inexpensive* laptop, so don’t go telling me about the latest cool costs-me-one-of-my-kids laptops. I would prefer one that docks or at least lets me hook up a full size keyboard and monitor to. The bane of writers everyone has finally found me–carpal tunnel.
Light! I can’t believe I still don’t know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I bought the book A Circle of Quiet just after my booksigning at the BYU symposium. It was on sale, and I can’t turn down a sale. I love to tell Scott how much money I save him. Besides, I loved reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was in fourth grade and was happy to read more about her.
I have shed many a tear since then. Madeleine and I have quite a bit in common. We’re both neurotic writers. We’re both mothers trying to juggle writing careers while dealing with the tsk tsks from other mothers who have it all together when we don’t. We both own grocery stores in small communities. We both married men who loved acting. We’ve been dealt the stinging blow of rejection and have come back screaming, “Is that all you got?”
Okay so maybe neither of us came back screaming for more, but we did come back . . . isn’t that the important thing?
I hate how I’ve discovered how much I love this woman only after it was too late to ever meet her. Madeleine died last September. I would love to give her a hug and say, “Thanks for understanding my very weird life.”
Something that struck me as utterly profound was this statement she made after a rejection she received on her fortieth birthday. This was after her years in the thirties, which were filled with endless manuscript rejections and incredible guilt for taking time to write books when she worried she might be better occupied to learn to make cherry pie and do as other–more proper–mothers do. She decided to, “Stop this foolishness and learn to make cherry pie.”
She covered her typewriter in what she refers to as a great gesture of renunciation and walked around and around her room bawling, totally, utterly miserable.
While pacing and bawling, she stopped, realizing her subconscious mind had already begun working out a novel about failure.
She uncovered her typewriter.
This was her moment of decision. This was her moment where she realized she WAS a writer, no matter what, even if she never had another book published.
A quote from her on this matter is, “I’m glad I made this decision in the moment of failure. It’s easy to say you’re a writer when things are going well.”
I mourn the fact I never got to hug her.
There have been several rocky years where I was faced with the very real possibility that I would never see my name on a future publication. There was a time when I covered my computer, and said, “Stop this foolishness and learn to make pie.” Okay, maybe I never said I’d learn to make pie, but there are so many ways I fall short of other women because I have split my life into other things. I would stop the foolishness of writing, and be like other moms.
I uncovered my computer.
I, too, am glad to have made this decision in my moments of failure. And now with another book coming out, quite possibly two, I wonder that I even considered it. There is no such thing as second child infertility with novel writing. If you can write one . . . you can write two, and more. If you can make the choice to keep writing amidst rejection and failure, then you’ve proved something important–to you and to the world, but most importantly to you.
You proved you really are a writer.