Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One Novel to Live

One of the seven thousand reasons I love David Sedaris is his willingness to embrace the soap opera. Not with some convoluted, high-brow argument that the soap opera is an overlooked art, but rather for its beautiful absurdity and the fact that it played a mentionable, if not significant, role in his formative years. And here’s my horribly predictable confession: I love soap operas. No, let’s be clear. I love my soap operas. It’s like sports that way. You don’t just love baseball or football or basketball; you love the Giants, the Niners, or the Lakers. I’m a CBS soap fan myself, but I'm not afraid to spend an hour with Bo and Hope, Marlena and John, and whatever purgatorial beast is haunting the docks of Salem these days. And I won’t mention Passions other than to thank the go fug girls for blazing the trail so other smart women can admit they watched something so, so wrong.

The Pecking Order, as it turns out, is our own personal soap opera. It's on live feed in our heads, not to mention our hearts. The protagonist, Abigail Taylor, is our plucky heroine-our Reva, our Cricket (I grew up in the 80's - she'll always be Cricket to me). And as any faithful soap fan will tell you, the role of plucky heroine is not for the faint of heart. There are murders and miscarriages, affairs and kidnappings, demonic possessions and organized crime. Children often grow 10 years in the span of 2 without so much as a second glance or unreasonable explanation. Our Abby (as Laura and I call our heroine) doesn't have hyper-speed-growth kids or a philandering, murderous husband who is really her brother, but she faces her fair share of battles, nonetheless. She's a stretch-mark-covered, billable-hour-crazed BlackBerry junkie trying to hold her marriage together and make partner at a premier law firm - a heroic, if not impossible, endeavor. In Abby's words, she's a "half-ass lawyer, part-time mother, and non-existent wife." She has a sadistic boss, backstabbing colleagues, and a neglected husband who's been spending too much time with a hot young female friend. So sure, she may not have to dress like she's going to the prom every day and, no, she hasn't been stalked by a man-child sorcerer, but her road has its fair share of bumps.

Abby's life outside the book has been full of twists and turns, as well. She's had fleeting success (like the many marriages of Ridge and Brook) and repeated failures (also like the many marriages of Ridge and Brook). She’s been tweaked and reinvented more times than Erica Kane's been married. She’s evolved with each successive draft, so much so we realized we didn’t even like the first iteration of Abby - the woman we created and about whom we wrote nearly 100,000 words. I’m sure that’s an issue ripe for psychological analysis, but I’ll leave that to Marlena.

Like any good woman with a favorite soap character, we've stuck by Abby. We've seen her through the toughest of times; we love her despite of and because of our past together. We are proud of who she’s become and we think you’d like her, too. You might even enjoy spending about 300 pages with her, but the problem is we haven't yet found someone to agree with us. We’ve been close, so close there were committees discussing our manuscript. And while they were doing so, we saw ourselves perfectly air-brushed on the back flap; we felt the raised title on the velvety soft cover. But we visualized too soon. The Pecking Order remains unpublished and Abby now languishes in the bowels of our computer, saving her family and charting a path for working moms everywhere like the proverbial tree that falls in the woods. She's in Fiction Limbo. Publishing purgatory. The only thing left for us is to query more agents and write this blog in hopes of sharing her with the world. Or we could grab Tabitha, have a séance, and raise John Black from the dead so he can save our lovely heroine from this wretched fate.

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