Some know the horrible truth, but not my entire reader base, so here goes. I wrote a manuscript. It’s called Pride of the Lions. I will occasionally blog about it as I attempt to reach the Zen state known as “published.”
I have “pitch” and “critique” sessions tomorrow at the Atlanta Writer’s Conference. I attended the conference earlier in the year but was unable to submit my materials. I spent a frustrating day talking to writers and trying to weasel myself into a room with an agent. I was unsuccessful. There’s a palpable energy to this kind of conference, because you are surrounded by a group of like-minded people who are attempting to realize a dream. The dream may not be as vast an unlikely as becoming the next Jonathan Franzen. It may be as simple as seeing your name in print.
I’ve said this before, but what the heck, it’s early. The writing game is unusual, in that the majority of folks who ply the craft do not get paid to do it. Most people toil away at home in their free time, finding slivers of opportunity in the morning, evening, lunch, or weekends to scribble their ideas.
I wrote my current manuscript, Pride of the Lions, last summer, over a frenzied three-month period. I’d get up an hour early and go for 60-90 minutes just about every day. I wrote in 2010 about events in 2011. It’s a simple tale of members of a fantasy football league who have to cope with the death of one of their leaguemates, and in a manner typical of the adolescent back and forth that we get in such leagues, they decide to travel during that fall to honor their friend by spreading his ashes in creative ways at Detroit Lions games. He’s a Lions fan. When I wrote the book, the Lions making a run at the Super Bowl seemed as likely as a guy with the middle name of Hussein becoming President seemed in 2006.
Problem is, I haven’t as much as looked at my manuscript this fall. I did have a meeting with an author who critiqued my first 20 pages. In short, he told me to scrap them. I started with a chapter from the point of view of the dead guy, chronicling his final hour on this earth and introducing the other characters from his point of view. He told me to kill the dead guy. He wanted me to fast-forward to the start of the football season. I didn’t make changes as much as exorcise the offending early pages, starting the book with an e-mail exchange between the league members that finishes in the news of the death.
The change was based on one person’s opinion. Tomorrow I get two more. I have a critique session. There are six literary agents at the event, and you pick two. One is for a critique session in which they review your “best” or “first” or “least dusty” 20 pages and you have 15 minutes to talk about it. Since I adjusted my manuscript, this is a different 20 pages than was reviewed this summer. I was slightly late on registering for said critique so instead of getting my choice of agent I got the one who had a cancellation. She represents, um, young adult, women’s fiction, and pop culture memoir. My book is so soaked with testosterone that there will be actual dirt rubbed on the cover. Every publishing story starts with beating the odds, so what the heck. I also have a “pitch” session. The agent hears my pitch, and she only knows of me from a one-paragraph bio and summary of my manuscript.
In short, I will be at the Westin Airport hotel for about ten hours and the main event is approximately 25 minutes of that time. Perhaps I have an advantage in thinking of this at the last minute. I haven’t had time to get nervous.