Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Lament from the Cubicle

Of course I don't want to whine about my life. I try desperately not to be that guy anymore. So this is not a posting in which I whine, it is a posting in which I lament the fact that I don't have the time to write as often as I used to.

I am a lucky man. This I know. I have a great life, one I never thought I could deserve or acquire: great partner, wonderful dogs, a condo that we are buying (not renting), many little red boxes (from Cartier if you're unaware of what a little red box is), and many other wonderful possessions, I was laid-off but found another job within 7 months (only truly looked for a job for the last 3), good health (for the most part), a completed novel and an agent who believes in it and my talent. All the things one could hope for. But, of course, we always want more. And the "more" that I want is time. Time to write.

My new job is a good one. Great boss who I get along with and like a lot. Fun and helpful co-workers. Decent money. All good, except the fact that it is one freaking busy office. So busy that for the first month I would, more often than not, forget to eat lunch (and breakfast sometimes). Non-stop from the moment I walk in the door. It's a bit crazed, I must say. Granted I started right as they entered into their busiest time of the year. Holiday Image is the name of the company. We create, design and install holiday decorations for many high-end businesses ( It's amazing what goes into the final products of these decorations. It's fun and interesting, but a heck of a lot of work.

Consequently, I have no time to write. By the end of the day, I am exhausted, mentally. Seriously brain-dead. I get home, cook for Carlos and I, watch some mindless television or play mindless games on the computer, then fall into bed less that 2 hours after I've gotten home. It's not a pretty sight. I try to write on the bus on the way into the city and that's worked a bit, but it's a pale comparison to the writing I was producing when I was laid-off. Remember when it was good to be the king? Yeah, well, it sucks to be a peon back in the cubicle.

And then there's school. One of the reasons I took last spring off from classes at NYU, where I've been pursuing my BA in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing, was the fact that writing for classes was getting in the way of finishing my novel. While I have been wanting this BA for years (and have worked hard to get it since 2004), I have to admit that it's become more of a burden now than an achievement sought. Because of the new job, I'm only taking 1 class this semester. 1 class! And I am so far behind in it that its not even remotely funny. The thought of having to read these assigned works, rather than the books I have on my shelf that I need and want to read as research for my new novel, really sets my anger on edge. And then spending what little extra time I do have to write assignments rather than work on my personal writing makes me wonder why I'm still in school. I only have 24 more credits (6 classes) to go to graduate, to get that piece of paper, but I truly wonder if it's worth it if it keeps me from my true goal of writing.

But enough of the whining I wasn't supposed to be doing and back to the lamenting. I lament the loss of time, personal time. It will come again, I know. I have faith in myself, in my talent, in my work, so I know I will succeed and with that success with come the time I walk out of that cubicle (not just the one I currently sit in but the "cubicle" as metaphor for a day job rather than a true career as a writer) and not look back. I will not die in a cubicle, this I avowed myself years ago. Everything I do, all the writing, is in pursuit of that goal. I am not in search of fame and fortune (sorry Carlos), I am in search of freedom and time. And I've always known that it was my writing that would lead me to that goal.

So, enough lamenting as well. Time to continue the pursuit. Research when I can. Write when I can. And it will come. The King will return to his kingdom. It's just gonna take time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Have an Agent!

Well, the headline says it all. It's been a long road, though not nearly as long as it's been for others, but it's all been worth it.

As previously posted, in May I attended the wonderful Backspace Writer's Conference (they are having another one this November, which I highly recommend attending). While there I had the opportunity to have my query and 1st two pages read by attending agents in a workshop-style seminar called the Agent/Author day. Of the 18 agents that heard my work, 6 requested more materials, a high percentage if you ask me. Of course, the moment I got home I jetted the requested materials out to them.

Within a couple of weeks, the wonderful April Eberhardt of the Reece Halsey Literary Agency got back to me with feedback. While she loved the story, she felt the 'writing wasn't quite there yet.' She felt the book moved too slowly, which I had to agree. Hard to hear but completely accepted. I went back to the drawing board and decided to take some chances with the book. I decided to approach with a new boldness, stop being coy and "subtle" and just tell the story. The rewrite turned out to the be strongest version I had ever written and finally felt the book was finished.

I sent the reworked version out again. In addition, I requested of a couple of choice agents that already had the older version, to substitute the new version, and thankfully each agreed. That was back in July.

More waiting. A couple of nudging emails and then I started following each of the agents on Twitter. I began interacting with one of them, sending subtle and not so subtle reminders that she had the manuscript, which she assured me she was getting to, but was swamped (all agents are swamped right now). Weeks and months passed and slowing my manuscript rose to the top of her stack.

The week of September 20th, she read the manuscript. We set up a time to talk Wednesday, September 23rd to discuss and, while I figured she'd say the usuals (love the story, love the characters, but...the writing's not quite there yet), she surprised me. "Love the story, love the characters, but above all I love the writing." I was flabbergasted. I was shocked. She offered representation then and there.

So, the contracts have been reviewed and signed. And now I have an agent! Jennifer DeChiara has her own agency and has been in the biz for quite awhile amassing a well-respected reputation for being very nice but very tenacious when it comes to her clients (ME). I am beyond excited to have her in my corner fighting for my book. She is passionate about books and publishing and about my work. While I know selling any fiction is tough these days, let alone Literary Fiction, I have complete faith in her and my book.

Between the two of us, On the Edge of Someplace Else will find its proper place on the bookshelves.