I have an agent!
Almost a year ago, I was contacted by three agents after one of my essays was published in Slice. They wanted to see my novel manuscript (which I’d mentioned in my bio). I was working on my seventh (yes, seventh) complete rewrite of the damn thing, and it wasn’t quite finished yet. When I finally sent the full manuscript out to those three agents last December, two took a pass (historical fiction not being their thing) and one said she wanted it!
Brandi Bowles of Foundry Media gave me a list of revisions, telling me she expected these to take 4-6 months (she was right; it took exactly six months). I got the manuscript back to her about a month ago and we spent a few weeks doing some fine-tuning….line-editing and brainstorming a new title and working on a pitch letter, among other things. And finally, a week and a half ago, Brandi began sending out Now is the Hour to New York publishing houses!
I’ve worked on this novel for so long–I started it in the fall of 2010, just before I got pregnant with my first son–that this has all felt a little heady, like I’m playing pretend. My novel has been such a part of my daily life (thinking, dreaming, researching, writing, editing) that it almost felt like this would be life forever, just working on my novel for the rest of my days. I hadn’t yet allowed myself to think what would happen when it was actually done! My dad has been pressuring me for a couple years to get the manuscript out to agents, mostly out of excitement for me, but I knew that would be literary suicide. I couldn’t send it out before it was ready, and I have enough writing experience to know when something is ready for other eyes to see it. It wasn’t ready until it was ready. But the good thing was, I also knew while writing my seventh draft that I had finally FINALLY found the voice and the correct plot line.
I don’t know what will happen; I feel the need to hedge my bets by saying that, although Brandi seems confident that the manuscript will sell. I do know this, though: this has been a marvelous journey and an excellent education. Whatever comes of it will be a step toward the next adventure. I could have given up on that manuscript so many times, and I did take breaks, especially right after my babies were born. But I didn’t give up! And now, I’m so very glad that I didn’t. Reading The Art of Slow Writing by Louise DeSalvo gave me the final push to get through that last draft. Through her, I learned that if I gave up and started a new novel (which I was precariously close to doing, having already started the second novel), I would never learn what I needed to learn. I would keep bumping into all the same manuscript issues again but in a new story, and would keep doing so until I finally buckled down and did the work. Start to finish.
And maybe best of all, I’m finally done with the damn thing! (for now…an editor will have more edits, of course) After a year of really, really hard work while also raising two adorable, energetic forcefields known as little boys, I finally get to go back to work on my second novel, which I began in 2014. I also got to start working on a new essay this week, too, which is something I’ve missed (I heart essays and essay-writing).
I can’t wait to see what comes next! (actually, what comes next around here is this: get ready for our trip to Italy for my writing conference! More on that later…)