The Rules

A writer friend of mine, recently published after years of trying, often says that getting published is just like dating:

You send a query to an agent or house, and then you wait.

Should I call him?

Is it too soon to call?

Will I sound desperate?

But if I don’t call maybe he won’t think I’m serious. I’d better call.

You call, get halfway through the number, hang up.

You go shopping. There is no problem that does not look insignificant in comparison to the search for the perfect black skirt.

You rehearse a short spiel, breezy, casual, as if you couldn’t care less if he got the manuscript you’ve been slaving the last two years to perfect. Oh, no big deal, just wanted to make sure you’ve seen it. You call friends and practice your speech on them.

You ask your friends questions: Do I sound overconfident? Arrogant? Timid? Hysterical? Am I overanalyzing this? Am I not analyzing it enough? HOW can I not be analyzing it enough? Your friends ply you with cigarettes.

You fume. He said he liked authors JUST LIKE YOU, with adjectives all high up and the best verbs of their lives to waste on somebody, so why hasn’t he bloody well called you? Is it you? Are you not good enough for him? Maybe it’s him. No, there’s no way it’s him. Got to be something wrong with you.

But the thing is, you just know you’d be perfect together. If only you could make him see that.

You start doing vodka shots at noon.

A publisher friend chimes in that after you’re together, officially a couple, sign a contract, it’s like marriage with no hope of divorce. You realize you’ve saddled yourself with a crazy person, somebody who’s stuck on chapter six for two months and won’t stop angsting about it, somebody who leaves bits of their outlines all over the bathroom floor. And you can’t get out of it, you have to deal with this nutball author artiste-type and you really wish you’d signed a pre-nup.

All of this is by way of saying, Jason, if it’s any comfort at all, it’s not you. Godspeed.

A.