Approximately ten years ago I got a weird idea in my head.
I wanted to run a marathon.
I wanted to see if I could do it.
I always ran, but never long distances. I thought it was some kind of boring torture for masochists.
But I started with a mile, then three, then five. I started to like it - the solitude, the repetition, the stress relief, the calm that comes from working so physically hard that you have no room left for anxiety or fear or disappointment.
I would think a lot of random thoughts on those runs, training for that race.
The one I kept coming back to was this:
I want to write a novel.
So I did. I approached it the same way as running a marathon. A few yards, a few miles at a time, but in this case they were sentences and paragraphs and chapters.
I ran my first marathon in 2000. It was horrible.
I wrote my first book, a three hundred page novel, in 2001. It was horrible, too.
But I finished it.
And then I decided to keep going.
I even decided to go back and take writing classes. I would take a class or two each semester, practicing and getting better, learning how to give and take critiques.
It's hard to believe it took a decade to get to where I wanted, but in some ways, I think it needed to happen the way it did. For the first time in my life, I had to work really hard at something I wanted. It wasn't just going to fall into my lap.
As a kid, I never had to work particularly hard in school to get good grades or kill myself to get on the varsity team. Usually I would quit if I thought something was too hard or I wouldn't even try if I couldn't be sure I would succeed on the first try.
Not this time. I really learned what rejection and failure felt like. It sucks.
But then I got over it.
I promised myself I wouldn't quit until I got there.
They say, at least they do in Apocalypse Now, that victory smells like napalm in the morning.
I don't know about that. I don't necessarily consider this a victory, but more of a vindication of sorts.
Vindication smells even better. And it tastes like champagne.
So I would like to introduce my new agent, someone who apparently gets my sense of humor, God help her.
Her name is Hannah Bowman, and she is a literary agent for Liza Dawson Associates in New York.
I will write more about the book I wrote and the query letter that got her attention in a later post.