Not only to fly, but to bring the world's eyes...skyward.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Reality Check, The End*

*or could it be The Beginning?

That's what I wanted to know more than when, if ever, I'll make Captain - and I was about to find out.

Conference organizer/MC (Master of Critiquing) Michael Neff and Ken Atchity hated my idea, or more accurately, hated my long-winded, disjointed, proudly genre-bending summary of it. But
Karlene had helped me cook that vat of confusion down into a full-bodied, perhaps even potent elixir. I hadn't been pitching my coming-of-age saga about four generations of a family of pilots, a concept which inherently promises dramatic action. I was pitching a(nother) terrorism thriller (about which even I myself couldn't get excited) with too much back story.

I was using pictures of Europe to sell a trip to Rio because I wanted the appeal of the tried and true. But what I really needed to do was just show folks the rich, refreshing South America I know and love, and let her seduce her own suitors.

The smallish conference room had been adequate and comfortable as a classroom the previous days, but now, with six tables set around its perimeter, nine agents seated on the outside, five-dozen wanna-be authors standing in line for nine chairs before them on the inside, despite everyone's best intentions and a few fellow writers' attempts to micro-organize it--I can't sugar-coat it--it was a mob scene.

Sixty eager writers convinced they just might get cut short of pitching "The One," divided amongst nine potential Obscurity Egress Coordinators equals a pretty good test for one's pet philosophy about the inherent goodness or evil of Man. I myself easily fell back on my union background, and tried to just savor the hopeful, positive energy in the room. I had a few new friends there who had projects I firmly believed were salable, and I wanted success for them almost as much as for myself. More than anything, I just wanted "the system," of which I wasn't under any illusion of yet being truly worthy to be considered a part, to work for someone--anyone--whose talent and work I respected.

Trying to size up the lines was like trying to trace a single strand of spaghetti in a bowl full, but like a hastily formed jam session, we all found a method and settled into a rhythm to find the ends of the lines for the agents we wanted to pitch. To my knowledge there were no melees, but I couldn't see through the crowd in some directions...

Flashing back to my single years, availability became a large part of my overall interest level, and since I couldn't recall having yet pitched
A Silver Ring to (or thus researched, in any detail) any of the agents in attendance, there was no better way to decide which end of the pool to jump into.

I can honestly say that every agent I pitched that day - six out of the nine, in all - was the absolute epitome of professional courtesy: interested, engaged, and helpful. Could it have been just that my pitch was so much better than it had been for Ken Atchity two days prior? I can't say for sure, but I can say that, with each business card I was handed, each brow that went up and not down as my idea waddled across the No Man's Land of aural communication, I became more convinced that I do indeed have a viable "high concept" story that's unique and original but with near-universal themes and meaning.

Because they were all so great to me, I'm not going to waste space detailing my impressions of each. Five of the six requested I query them when I finish editing, which I realize is nothing even close to a promise of representation or even to read a full or partial manuscript, but it was not, in any way, shape or form, the deadpan, wholesale rejection I'd been getting, and expecting, before
Karlene so obviously "got it" and took the time to help me divine what my novel's really
about. The sixth even gave it a "soft" rejection, stating that she didn't handle this kind of thing, but that, if I contacted one of her colleagues at the same agency, I could use her name as a referral.

So, since then, and still, I've been editing. I've taken the original draft, which started out as a whopping 165,000-word sequenced compilation of what I'd written as components of a trilogy, and pared it down to just over 100,000 words. I don't believe I've lost anything too important yet, and I'm actually hopeful that the book will be much more appealing and easier to read for its smaller size when I'm done.

Then it'll finally be time to send out those six queries that have the best chance of success yet for my having attended
Algonkian's San Francisco Write and Pitch Conference. And if they come back empty-handed, well, I guess I'll have another thing or two to blog about before I go to another one.

But, first, I'll try to take a few deep, cleansing breaths, and maybe see if
Karlene's got a minute, or sixty. By then, her own Work in Progress, Flight for Control, could be under contract, and we have a deal - first one into print buys the champagne...now that's what I call a win/win.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, to the new blog look. As for your writing. From my somewhat close observation over a few years I see a lot of positive change. I hope to see that novel in its final form sitting on the shelf in the upscale bookstores (eliminating Wally-Worlds little alcoves).

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