As most of you know I’ve recently completed my memoir Only Good Things, the story of my zany childhood. I liken the process to giving birth - messy, painful, ooey-gooey. The last phase was the toughest… pushing, pushing, puuushing to finish it…all the while screaming GET IT OUT OF ME! like a possessed demon woman. And finally….
IT'S A BOOK!
Break out the cigars! Balloons! Champagne!
Then came the next step. After recovering from the long arduous labor, everyone wants to see the baby, and you worry – well, the baby does look kinda scrunchy. Will people think it’s ugly? Cute? Undercooked? But – you have to release it into the world. That’s what it came here for, you know. If I stuffed that baby away in a drawer for a year…well, people might think I was a negligent mother. So I did it. I started sending my baby out to be seen.
My friends all loved my baby. It’s so YOU. It has your voice! They got what my baby was all about, and because they love me, they loved my baby.
Then I sent it out to the big guns…agents who didn’t know or love me. People who would look at my baby with a critical eye. I mean, it’s not like I think my baby is the next Baby Gap model, but…it has ten fingers, ten toes and all that, and…well, it’s hard for me to be objective but my writer friends say it’s a great baby!
Yesterday I got my first rejection. Ouch. Even though I knew this was coming, after all - J.K. Rowling had 12 publishers reject her baby before the 13th accepted it…(and that baby grew into the biggest giant the world has ever seen! ) it still smarts. Because when it’s a memoir, it’s not only your work they are rejecting…it’s your life story. I tried to think of it this way: Everyone gets rejections, even the Beatles. It’s part of the artistic process, and with each rejection I get, I’m that much closer to the one who’s going to say yes. Right? Yeah, I tried to think of it that way. And I know there will be more, so I'm building my callouses.
This agent was actually really nice and said some lovely things about my writing and my “voice”, but here’s why she didn’t take it, and this is what’s plaguing me….she said -
Abuse memoirs are very hard to place in today’s market.
ABUSE MEMOIRS?!!!??? I never ever thought of my baby as an abuse memoir! I’ve never thought of myself as an abused person. I’m not a victim, and neither will my baby be. Well this got me thinking. Just because I know my baby isn’t an abused baby, doesn’t mean everyone else will. So maybe I presented the first three chapters of this baby in the wrong way. (Because that’s all they read- the first three chapters). This is actually a book about survival and hope. The story has many twists and turns, at times its zany and kooky and ironic. But they only saw that one snapshot of my baby- they don’t know it’s many expressions and moods.
So you know what that means? I have to shove this baby BACK UP INTO MY UTERUS again and let it cook a little while longer. Now, for some reason, I am avoiding this painful step with everything in me. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna (kicking, screaming, crying……waaaaaaaaaah). Well – would you? I mean, really.
I don’t know, maybe I’ve got to take some Lamaze classes or something to get courage…cause all the breathing in the world isn’t gonna make me want to do this.
So… take down the balloons, stub out the cigars , send back the Congratulations cards. This baby is going back in the womb for now.Sympathy cards gratefully accepted.