It said to check in fifteen minutes before my appointment with the literary agent. I was there thirty.
I had declined dinner the night before to revise (for the umpteenth time) my written pitch. Thankfully I had packed extra 5 by 8 cards in my luggage. I worked on it over and over until it lost all its previous cohesion and was now a babbled mess. I would need the freight elevator to carry my formerly stream-lined fifty word “elevator pitch” up to the third floor of the hotel.
I lied myself into a show of confidence. I showered and changed into my jammies, praying that I would wake up refreshed, perky, transformed.
I attended two workshops that morning just to keep my mind off the impending appointment; besides I had spent half of my monthly income paying for this conference and I wanted to get some sort of return for my investment.
I skipped the session before my 3:40 appointment to go back to my hotel room and “freshen up.”
My hair refused to cooperate and laid flat. My breath rejected all attempts at minty freshness and my deodorant had stopped working two hours before and the smell of FEAR permeated the room.
So there I was, in line with all the other 3:40’s, all of us marching off to meet our fate. The young woman in front of me bragged about how EVERYONE asked for a manuscript. This was her third year and had sent her work numerous times as requested. All had been rejected in the end. A lady my age standing behind me said the same thing and with the same result. So even if I got a nibble, this was no guarantee I was on my way to published authordom.
A buzzer rang and they marched us in to meet our agents or editors. It reminded me of Speed Dating. (I didn’t do well with that either.)
I introduced myself to the agent. I shook her hand. I pulled out my fistful of five by eights.
The rest is a blur. I read my cards (more like babbled, I think). She told me I did not have a novel; I had a piece of episodic work. She wanted a novel: one man, one woman, a romance.
I tried again, comparing my masterpiece to The Joy Luck Club. She didn’t like The Joy Luck Club. It too was episodic but not to her taste.
I said it emulated the work of Cisneros and Alvarez, and I got a blank stare before she told me my work was “too literary” for what she wanted. There would be no “sending it off” to anywhere.
The interview was over. We shook hands. I stood and walked away.
The first thing I did was go back to my room, hide my stack of five by eights, and take a quick shower. I took the elevator downstairs and drowned my sorrows in a Starbuck’s Mocha Frappucino. I called my husband.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked the agent. We were just not compatible. I believe in my episodic, too literary manuscript. She didn’t, and the agent I hire has to like it as much as I do.
This is not The End.