The Exceptional Writer 1 2 - Page 6

AWKWARD. Some part of me felt I didn’t deserve to see the inside of a New York publishers office. Doubleday said no. We never sold the yoga book. And I never cold queried any agents about that book or my memoir. If the agents and editors who’d met me didn’t want any of my projects, how could a cold contact lead anywhere? Despite getting encouraging feedback, I wasn’t persistent. Also, I’d choked in that New York meeting. Which meant: I wasn’t ready. Finding the story I had to tell AKA “Don’t you dare tell me not to tell it.” I got married. My husband encouraged me to give up my copywriting job and focus on my memoir full-time. I didn’t quit completely, but I reduced my workload with gratitude and a little guilt. Then my grandmother died. I’d grown up with her, and in my grief I was left to sell her house and arrange care for my elderly uncle who’d been living with her. I didn’t know how to do these things. My husband and I decided to adopt a little girl from India, and everything went wrong. I spent over a year in India fighting for her, only to have to let her go. I didn’t know how to do that either. I stopped writing. For months, just getting out of bed felt like an accomplishment. My husband and I decided to try to adopt again. Slowly I started writing the story of everything that had happened in India. We adopted three toddlers in quick succession, and I lost ten pounds chasing them around. I wrote during preschool hours or after they went to bed. I started blogging, knowing I needed a “platform” to sell my memoir, but I wasn’t good at it. I decided to focus on the memoir. I wrote a book proposal for the memoir of our failed adoption and hired a professional writing coach I trusted to review it before I sent it to agents. She told me the book would never sell, and that I was wasting my time. “Maybe it could be an essay,” she said. Her words felt like a sucker punch. I cried, and then I got mad. Looking for a sign that I should continue with the book, I entered a Pitchapaloozacontest at a local bookstore and won. The prize was having Arielle Eckstut of The Book Doctors review my proposal and introduce me to an agent. Arielle offered clear advice and warm encouragement on making the proposal better, but I held off on the agent contact. A writer friend wanted to send my proposal to her agent, and I thought it should be an exclusive submission. My friend’s agent turned it down, explaining the book needed to have a more emotional depth if it was going to work. I knew she was right. I started rewriting the proposal and the sample chapters to reflect that. I wasn’t there yet, but I was finally fixin’ to get ready. The writing is the hardest part AKA “Susan Orlean told me to start over.” I signed up for an online memoir course with Kelly McMasters through Media Bistro, and took the class three times. (Sadly, MB no longer offers the course.) I had one hundred pages of the manuscript complete, and I was proud! I decided to kick things up a notch by finding a really good master class to hone the material, so that I could start approaching agents with my proposal and partial manuscript. Kelly loved what I’d written so far and thought I could get a deal before the book was completely written. That sounded good to me. Thanks to Google, I discovered the world’s most amazing writer’s conference: Sirenland, founded by Dani Shapiro, her husband, Michael Maren, and writer Hannah Tinti. I couldn’t believe it! Dani’s memoir Slow Motion was one of my favorites. I wanted Dani Shapiro to help me with my book! I needed her help!! I applied to the conference assuming I wouldn’t get in. Plus who would take care of my husband and kids while I ran of ][OHYYXH]H\YY[]^KH[^H\ؘ[\YYH][ ^H[\Z[[]ٙ\YYH[[]HY˂\[[\HYZ[ۙۙ\[H[]ۙHوHܛ8&\[X]]Y[[H\[\K[ۙHوHܛ8&\[X]]Y[X\][][KH\؜XXY [H\\YۙY\[ܛX[&\ۙX[ۈܚ \[\ۙHوH[\Z[[]H[H[H[]\YY] Y[[ۈH[X[ܚ]\]Y\XY[H\ Y\و^BX[\ܚ\ HYHY][]\\X\[H[&][[\ܞH\^K\X]\HH[[\ܚ]\&\YY\[Y\