On Monday I mentioned both of these events. Here’s a bit more. After a great “Southern Tour” for Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women, with editor Nina Gaby (and we were joined by contributor Jessica Handler for the Atlanta leg of the tour) in April, I was thrilled to be able to join more contributors for a reading at Bluestockings in New York City this past Friday night. The other contributors who came for the event live in New York City (Diane Spodarek and Melody Breyer-Grell), Vermont (Nina Gaby and Alexis Paige) and Maine (Penny Guisinger).
It was so much fun to see Nina and Alexis again (Alexis and I met at the 2011 Memphis Creative Nonfiction Workshop and were reunited at the 2013 Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference, where I met Nina) and to meet Diane, Melody and Penny. I always enjoy hearing authors read their work aloud.
And how fun to have my new friend (from NYC) Lori Hoepner come to the reading. I met Lori in New Orleans last November through our mutual friend, NancyKay Wessman. Nina, Melody and Alexis all had friends and relatives at the reading, and we also appreciate the bookstore’s regulars who attended and bought books.
The other bookend to a wonderful weekend was my meeting with a literary agent on Monday morning. This agent has been supportive of my novel-in-progress for several years, connecting me with editors who have guided me through two major revisions so far. While I was hoping to hear something like, “It’s almost done—just needs a little tweaking,” the news was more like “We LOVE the book, but it’s not ready yet.”
Although I was disappointed to hear those words, I was so encouraged by the rest of my conversation with this agent. It’s so different to talk in person rather than sharing email responses to the revision process. I felt we had a real soul connection and I believe this person will eventually get me a really good book deal. Even hearing difficult things like why I should cut three chapters (almost completely deleting one of three main characters) and expand other sections of the book was easier than one might think. I actually came to see her point of view and agreed that this needs to happen. (I’m going to save those chapters for another book… already have an idea for it.)
This agent spoke with wisdom but also kindness and humility. She said that what she does—finding what’s wrong with books—is so much easier than what the writer must do—fixing what’s wrong and making them great. In addition to the overview from editors, she had one of her readers send me an email after our meeting in which she shared a summary of most the recent suggestions from the agent and several of her readers, who discussed the most recent revision together after each of them read it. I’m happy to have such a great team behind me and I’m ready to get back to work on the novel. Today.
That’s all. I’m so thankful for the inspiration I gained from my time in the Big Apple—book readings, art museums, Ground Zero, even the people on the street. But it’s always good to be home. And back at work.