We learned many things through the process of writing and struggling to publish The Pecking Order: we have a weird, inexplicable obsession with the word vomit; when a smarmy guy “in the know” sidles up to you at a bar and tells you to start a blog and generate a following, you should listen instead of putting it off for four years while the blogosphere expands all around you and publishing deals are made after the click of a mouse (note, we did not make the same mistake twice…check out fictionlimbo on twitter); perseverance really does pay off.
You know what else we learned? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie rule the world! (cue sinister laughter of the mwah, mwah, mwah variety). Seriously. You already know pop culture references permeate our blog entries. It should come as no surprise that The Pecking Order is also seasoned with dashes of pop culture. Off the top of my head, I know Dr. Phil, Leonardo DiCaprio, Linda Evans, and Matt Damon all make an appearance. Mr. Pitt and Ms. Jolie were in there, too . . . until we were told to take them out. As originally written, when Abby, The Pecking Order’s stretched-to-snapping lawyer/mother/wife, worries that her husband is spending too much time with his hot young protégé on an environmental law issue, she refers to them as a socially-conscious, aesthetically pleasing couple—as the “Brad and Angie of the East Bay.” Ms. Reality Check, the professional writer who helped us hone our draft, red-lined those words right off the page. We thought maybe the reference was too obscure (you know, if you’re living on a not yet discovered planet with no Earthly contact), so we changed it to “Brangelina.” More red ink. We relented and wrote “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.” This time the word “NO!” screamed at us from the margins. But Leo and the others? No problem.
When we readied our final submission, we snuck our Brad and Angie reference back in. Our soon-to-be agent didn’t so much cross-out the reference as obliterate it so the original words were unrecognizable. In the legal profession (and, probably, in organized crime) we call that total destruction of evidence. Yet again, the other names we dropped were not an issue. Maybe it was a particularly bad sentence all around. Perhaps it was disjointed or threw off the rhythm. Or maybe, just maybe, their names are to be spoken only in hushed, reverent tones, and printed only with their permission because they do, actually, rule the world!