I recently spent several hours huddled around the desk in our spare bedroom, shuffling letters to agents, excerpts from our book, and the book synopsis (a beast of a document warranting its own blog entry altogether) into various piles. I cross checked literary agent addresses and submission requirements before sliding the papers into envelopes and off into the world with a wink and a promise. Only, it wasn’t really a wink. It was more like a twitch. You see, this is the not the first time we’ve gone through this query process for the The Pecking Order. It is, however, the last.
And as I drove to the US post office on the military installation closest to our house here in Germany, I wondered if I should have stuck a note in the envelopes letting the agents know I had to clear armed military guards to reach them. Surely that would get The Pecking Order the attention I believe it deserves--an agent would see the military APO return address, read my note, and feel duty bound to read the manuscript. And The Pecking Order would be as good as on the shelves. I didn’t include such a note, of course. Unlike when we first started this process, when I'm not sure I was beyond including naked photographs of myself (and Laura, witting or unwitting) to get the book noticed, I couldn’t muster the energy to be inspired or hopeful. I don’t know if it was the dreary weather, the aforementioned armed military guards, or the fact that sometimes the pursuit of a dream is made up of doubts and cynicism and self-flagellation of the “who do you think you are and and why can’t you just do what you’re trained to do, go forth, and continue being a lawyer” variety. Whatever the reason, I unceremoniously tossed the envelopes into the mouth of the squat blue mailbox and then stopped by the store for dish towels and toilet paper.
The following morning I was in bed with the computer on my lap. If that conjures up a vision of sloth and indulgence, you’re spot on. (Here’s where I qualify and self-promote - I'm training for the Florence marathon, so I’m not generally slothy, just occasionally, especially on gray German mornings, and sometimes after a long evening with my friends Moet & Chandon, Tattinger, Mumm, I could go on and on . . .). It was post-election and I was scanning the headlines. (We have no television programming in Germany and so we skated through election season free of talking heads, hyperbolic campaign commercials, and punditry.) I came across will.i.am.'s Yes We Can video. And, in that instant, with tears streaming down my face, I knew we could. I knew we could in that Oprah-live-only-your-best-life-be-always-in-relentless-pursuit-of-your-dream kind of way. No, it might not be The Pecking Order and, yes, we might ultimately have to bury Abby in the graveyard of unpublished fiction. But it will be something-a short story, a new novel. Whatever the case, I know we can.