Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hope For the Holidays

I can't believe it's a) nearly Jack's birthday and b) nearly 2011. I started this novel nearly two years ago, and I've spent nearly an entire year trying to get an agent. So far, I don't feel like I'm really closer than I was a year ago. And it's starting to get to me.
I can't think about my book without wanting to cry. I can't read a blog or an agent's Web site or an author interview without breaking down. I think about the book constantly, and it's eating away at me. I'm even crying as I type this.
I know it's stupid, and maybe some day my book will be published and I'll look back at this time and curse myself for being so stupid about the whole thing, but right now, it just sucks. I did get some very helpful advice from a blogger who suggested that I email the two agents I haven't heard from and let them know other agents were looking at my work (apparently I should have done that when they requested pages...whoops!). Both wrote back almost immediately to let me know that they just haven't gotten to my materials yet, which is good news since it means it's not a "no," but it also means that they weren't so excited by what they'd read so far that they wanted to put me at the top of their to-do list. Either way I'm trying to hold out hope for EW, who was one of my first choices anyway. She has had the full for over 3 months now, and I'm just praying she likes what she reads. This last batch of queries has turned out to be a total bust. We're going on 3 weeks and so far I've had 4 rejections and the rest no responses. Maybe it was a bad time of year to query - I don't know. I'm going to try to compile a list of 25 more agents over the holidays and start querying again in February.
I suppose I should be happy that I've made it through Jack's first year without inadvertently killing him or deliberately killing myself or John. I know that I accomplished a few things this year: the marathon, working most of the year, etc. But all I really wanted was to add "got an agent" to that list. And for the life of me I just can't seem to make it happen.
The only thing I want for Christmas this year (and my birthday and every other Christmas and birthday from here to eternity) is to get an agent. Every time my phone rings and it's an unknown number my heart leaps a little. Every single email holds a tiny kernel of hope that maybe, just maybe, someone is at least requesting a partial. And time after time my hopes are dashed. I know I need to stay positive and keep on trucking, but it's getting harder and harder.
There's not much more to say right now. TTFN.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things to Be Thankful For

I realize it's been quite a long time since my last posting, and that is, of course, because I have had very little to report. I keep hoping for news, and alas, none comes. Right now I'm still waiting to hear on one partial and one full, and since I was starting to freak out that the end of the year is nigh (and many agents don't accept or look at submissions in December and early January) I went a little crazy and sent out another dozen or so queries. The total is now 26. I got one rejection today from someone I queried yesterday, so the stats are:
6 rejections
5 no responses
5 partials or fulls (of which 3 were subsequent rejections)
I'm actually not that unhappy with those numbers. But we'll see what happens now that I have many more outstanding queries. I have resolved myself to the fact that this is a numbers game, and I need to have as many options as possible. Plus I need to keep things moving or I'll go insane. The idea of querying a few agents and waiting for a response is good in theory, but so far I've only gotten useful feedback from one agent, and now that it's been 2.5 months on the full and 2 on the partial, I can't keep waiting around. Either someone's going to like my writing enough to want to represent me or not.

Back to the title of this entry: I had really hoped to add "getting an agent" to my list of things to be thankful for this year, but it appears that is highly unlikely. So, barring that one glaring omission, here are, in no particular order, the top ten things I am grateful for:
1) That I have a happy, healthy (present cold notwithstanding), wonderful baby boy
2) That I have a loving and supportive husband who let me quit my job to take care of said baby boy and pursue my passion
3) That my husband is safe and sound here at home and not deployed
4) That the people I love most (namely Sarah and John, but also the rest of my family and good friends) are finding success in their endeavors
5) That I have a warm, safe place to live, even if it isn't the house of my dreams
6) That I can afford most of the things that I want and all of the things that I need
7) That this body of mine can give birth to a baby and run a marathon all in the same year (must learn to appreciate it more!)
8) That even though I feel hopeless and down on myself much of the time, I have the strength and perseverance to keep on fighting for my dreams
9) That my parents are both alive and healthy (for the most part) and I get to see them in a month
10) That I get to live less than ten miles from my best friend

I'm sure I'm leaving out a whole slew of things, but clearly, I have many, many reasons to be thankful this year. It sounds like Mr. Jack is awake and stuffy, so I'm off to attempt to clear out his little nostrils (which is far more difficult than it sounds, believe me). Tomorrow we leave for Atlanta to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Here's hoping for safe travels!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Marathon Mama

Finally, after months of training, I can quite proudly say that I am officially a marathon runner! Sarah and I finished in a respectable 4 hours, 20 minutes and 33 seconds. I would have loved to have finished under 4:15, but considering we were dodging runners the entire 26.2 miles and had to make two pit-stops (I had some serious stomach issues), the fact that we even managed to stay together and finish as well as we did is pretty impressive. I wish I could say I enjoyed the whole thing more, but frankly, it was pretty long and painful. I am, however, thrilled that it's over!
The last few miles were the toughest, especially for Sarah. But I managed to dig deep, remind myself that I gave birth, and I told myself what may amount to a lie: if I can finish a marathon, then I can get my book published! Whatever the case, it got my ass across the finish line.
Today, alas, it's back to reality. No rest for the wicked I'm afraid. We went trick or treating last night with our friends, and Jack was a real trooper - he spent 7 hours out and about with Daddy during the race, then put on his pony costume and went out for another couple of hours. I am as proud of him as I am of myself.
Of course, it has to be noted that John was there for me the whole time - I got to see him and Jack about mid-way through the race, which was a nice boost, and I have even more respect for him and his crazy running now that I've completed a fraction of what he's done. I am also more concerned for his sanity - I can't imagine doing that four times in a row, let alone doing another one in the next couple of months (if ever)! Sarah and I have decided that if we ever do decide to do another marathon, there will have to be more incentive (like a trip to Hawaii) involved.
As for the rest of my life, no news whatsoever on the book last week, although I did recently submit three more queries. I'm starting to get really down on myself about the whole thing. I feel like it's just not going to happen. But I managed to work a little more on the book last week, and I'm confident that once I finish my job in three weeks I'll be able to get some more writing in. If nothing else it will take away one stress factor in my life. Not having to worry so much about training should help too.
Well, Jack is awake from his nap so I'd better run (well, let's be honest - hobble) upstairs and get him.
I did it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Bad News

So last week sucked. Completely and totally. After two miserable days of putting Jack in day care, and picking him up with a filthy face and looking at the morons that I'd left him with, and spending 3.5-4 hours driving so I could work for 3, I decided to quit. Frankly, it doesn't feel like it was a decision. I honestly didn't feel like I had any other option. It was still one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in a long time.
Colonel Ford asked me to finish another issue, so I spent the weekend scrambling for some sort of babysitting option for Jack. A neighbor's nanny is going to watch him for 5 hours once a week until I finish the job. There's a small chance that I could get a job at Nat Geo, but at this point what I want more than anything in the world is to be able to sell my book so I can stay home with Jack. I don't want to put him in day care, even if the job is awesome, because I don't want to miss watching him grow up. At the same time, I feel like I need an income. It's so hard being a woman sometimes!
As I predicted, the agent who had taken forever to get back to me on the partial sent me a rejection yesterday. Her email was kind but vague, so I wonder if perhaps it was actually a form letter. I also got a rejection from the agent I queried right after I wrote my last entry. I queried two more agents yesterday to keep things moving, but I'm starting to lose hope. I still have one full and one partial out, but that's it. My stats had seemed pretty good up to a point, but now the rejections are mounting and I haven't gotten any requests for materials in a while.
One slightly encouraging thing - I was looking on an agent web site yesterday, and one person said she had sent out 115 query letters and received 99 negative responses, 16 positive ones, of which two were offers of representation. Perhaps I just need to start playing the numbers more? I dunno...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Down to the Wire

First, an update: After I posted last week I received a rejection from an agency I wasn't expecting to hear from, so now I have a total of 8 rejections. Just to make myself feel better I queried another agency, but they're pretty big so I'm not counting on anything. I guess I'm getting desperate, because last Friday my boss essentially told me that if I don't put Jack in day care, I don't have a job.
If money were no object, I would quit immediately. I always told myself that I wouldn't put my baby in day care, and I certainly don't love this job enough for it to be worth it (I barely like it, truth be told). But losing my income, even if it is piddly, would make for a significant lifestyle change for us, and I'm just not ready to go there. I was so stressed about money before I had this job, and I don't want to have to feel guilty every time I buy Jack an outfit or go to Target. So I have sort of worked out a schedule, and we'll see how it goes.
Starting next week, Jack will go to day care from 10 to 4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I really don't think he'll have a problem being there. My biggest fear is that he'll get sick a lot, which will just make everything harder for me. Hopefully his little immune system will be up to the challenge. Of course, I also have to commute to Quantico two days a week now, which is a pain in the butt. I'm also going to be spending $48 a week on day care and extra money on gas, so frankly I feel like a raise is in order. I might broach that next week, we'll see. It's been over a year so I feel like I'm due for one anyway.
My only hope is that something will happen with my book in the next couple of months, and I'll be able to quit my job and focus on my writing. I might even have Jack stay in day care for three or four hours twice a week so I could really get some work done, assuming he likes it and does well there. Not hearing from the agents is the most frustrating thing imaginable. I'm particularly nervous about the partial I sent nearly two months ago (although it did take 2 months to get a request for a full from another agency). I have this awful feeling that if the agent was really interested, they'd have gotten to it by now, but I just need to be patient. I just hate that I had to make this decision - I'd really hoped back when I got pregnant that I'd never have to work after Jack was born, and here he is almost 10 months old and I've been working the whole time.
I guess there's nothing else to do at this point but pray for a miracle...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bad, Bad Girl

Forgive me, blog, for I have sinned. It has been WAY too long since my last entry.
Unfortunately, I have little new to report despite the long delay in posting. Last weekend I was swamped with general life crap - baby proofing, errands, running 19 miles, etc. The weekend before that we were in L.A., which was a good - albeit extremely busy - trip. Little has changed in the book world. I haven't had any time to work on the newest novel, and I've only had one update since my last posting re: The Book Collector.
Another agency requested a partial, which is great. I now have two partials out and one full, and I'm desperately hoping that one of those leads turns into something. There are now 4 outstanding agencies, all of which are most likely not going to respond at this point. It has been two months since I sent out this batch of query letters, and here are the stats (including all agencies):
4 no's based on query letter (including KW and JB)
4 no responses
1 reject on full after resubmission (JM)
1 reject on full with possibility of resubmission
1 reject on partial with possibility of resubmission
2 partials pending
1 full pending

That's a total of 14 query letters with 3 possibilities left (and the 4 that I haven't heard from). So technically only 7 rejections, so not too terrible over all I guess. Fingers crossed that something pans out... Otherwise it's on to edits and resubmissions I suppose.
Meanwhile, Jack is now pulling himself up to standing! He's getting so big - it's amazing the changes in the last month alone. Of course, I'm up for worst mother of the year after this morning, when Jack flopped onto his face and landed directly on a sharp piece of plastic (I was sitting right there, trying to put a box back together that he'd just broken, and he fell over for no apparent reason). Now he has a big scrape on his little nose and I feel just awful :(
The marathon is only one month away, thank god. I suppose I should be nervous but I just want the damn thing over with. I'm currently trying to figure out how to fit in the 20 miler (our last long run) on the weekend we go to Boston. S and J are being very uncooperative in the scheduling department and it's stressing me out. There's always SOMETHING to worry about. Work is work - tedious and a constant looming presence I could certainly do without. But no agent, so no quitting. At least not until the end of the year, when I hope to reevaluate things (including our budget) and figure out my plan for 2011.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This Just In!

Finally, after not hearing anything for what seems like forever, I have an update. Last week I got a rejection from one of the agents who had requested a partial, which might be more devastating if she'd been someone I was super excited about. She was an agent who was recommended to me by two friends, so there was a connection there, but she didn't love the book and I certainly don't want to be represented by someone who doesn't "get" my writing. She gave me relatively positive feedback (she liked my writing and thought the book had potential) but when she suggested I add a ghost into the story, I knew she wasn't the right agent for me. She did say I can resubmit if I revise, so at least the door isn't totally closed.
I spent the weekend feeling rather down on myself. I'm swamped at work, and Sarah essentially told me she doesn't love my book and thinks I'm not trying as hard as I could. I appreciate her honesty (and to be frank, I pretty much already knew how she felt about the book) but it stung, of course. Did I put 100% of my effort into this book? Probably not, but it's hard to do that when I don't even know if anyone will ever want to represent me. If I already had an agent or this was my second novel or something, I think it would be a little different for me. Plus, in case no one else has noticed, I've been a tad busy this year...raising a child, working, training for a marathon, etc. So if I haven't given this novel my all, it's not because I'm lazy.
Then this afternoon I got an email from one of the two remaining agents who has the partial, and - praise be to jesus - she requested the full. I am just hoping and praying and wishing with all that I have that this agent wants to represent me! She's actually someone I queried with my last novel on the recommendation of KW, and while her roster isn't huge at this point, I think she has a lot of potential. I would be beyond thrilled for this agent to represent me. I have no idea how long it will take to hear back (it took about 5 weeks to hear on the partial, so I'm not expecting a speedy response). In the meantime, I'm really hoping the other agent with the partial requests the full as well. There are also 5 agents I have not had responses from, but I'm not really expecting them at this point.
I have also started working on the new novel, and I'm really hopeful that this one will go well. If I could get an agent at this point, I would definitely quit my job and put Jack in day care a few hours a week so I could really devote myself to writing. Pray for me!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Hero

As of right now (10:47 am on Sunday morning), my amazing husband has been running for nearly 27 hours. He has just about an hour and a half left of his 100 mile race in California. All I can do right now is pray that he finishes, since he's long past his 24-hour goal. After training so hard for so many months, it would be absolutely devastating if he didn't finish.
It's funny how the things that drive me crazy are also the things I love most about John. Take this race for instance. I hate that he has spent so many hours training for a race when he could have been spending that time with Jack and me. Sometimes I've felt like he gives more thought to his running than he does to our relationship. When we could have been snuggling on the couch at night after Jack goes to bed, he's been hooked up to his ridiculous altitude simulator.
But I also know that John's drive, his competitiveness, and his ability to overcome anything he sets his mind too are some of the qualities I admire most in John.
Then there are his eccentric (and expensive) tastes and hobbies. There has been another woman in John's life for the past year or so: Sylvia, his espresso machine. God forbid my husband read the Washington Post like most other 31 year olds. No no, John has to get the Financial Times, a pink British newspaper usually read by investment bankers in their 50s. And John's penchant for expensive watches, fine wines, and his need for ANOTHER bespoke suit all seem ridiculous given our middle-class lifestyle.
But all this also reminds me that John not only enjoys the best things in life (and why shouldn't he?), he also will work exceedingly hard to maintain a lifestyle in which we CAN enjoy those things. If I don't want to work, I know that I can quit my job with absolutely no guilt from John, and he will continue to work has hard as he can to make sure we are financially secure.
My husband may not be your typical man, but why on earth would I want to marry someone typical? I married an exceptional human being, and I couldn't be more proud of him.
Keep running baby! You're almost there!
And by the way, happy 6th anniversary. Can't wait for the next 60.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Club Peeps and the Big Race

Last night we had book club, which we'd sort of been slacking on lately. We read a novel and several of the girls were kind enough to humor me and read my book as well. I didn't get any specific feedback, but the general consensus seemed fairly positive, and they were impressed with my awesome rejection letter. No news since then and I'm starting to get very antsy. I must try to be patient and not send out more queries just because I'm desperate to hear something.
John and I survived another week with company. John's aunt was actually quite helpful and even babysat for us one night, but it's still hard having a guest for 6 days no matter how well behaved they are. On Friday John was extremely generous and got me a mani/pedi down the street, which was quite lovely, even if my nails are already destroyed. Tonight will be our first night alone together in a while and I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet.
Meanwhile, I'm having another breastfeeding dilemma, as Jack has been taking bottles at every meal except for his first of the day, and as it is right now I'm pumping four times a day on top of that feeding. I can't maintain that for our trip to California, so it seems my options for the moment are to try to decrease the number of pumpings a day without losing my supply, or just wean Jack entirely and switch to formula. Option #2 would certainly be easier, but I'm having horrible guilt over the whole thing. I'm going to try to drop to 3 pumpings a day and see what happens. Que sera sera! (I love how I'm acting all light-hearted about the whole thing. The truth is it's causing me serious anxiety!)
John and I took Jack to the daycare center today to scope it out, and I have to say I'm not too keen on the idea of leaving Jack there, even if it is just a couple of days a month. I know for sure now that I wouldn't have been able to put him in daycare full time, and I'm really happy with that decision. The place was perfectly decent but I just hated to see the little babies sitting all by themselves. It seemed okay for the older kids, but I don't think I'll do anything like that (except maybe on the rare occasion that I have to go somewhere, or maybe once a month at deadline) until he's ready for preschool at 2 or 3. Maybe John will get into the foreign service and it won't be an issue. Who knows. I just wish beyond anything that my book would get published and I could quit my job. Then it wouldn't be an issue. I'm just praying I hear something this week.
Almost forgot - John's race is on Saturday! I can't believe the big 100 miler is here already. I wish I could go with him because I'm worried his support crew isn't going to be there for him, and I think he really needs that moral support, even if he does think he can do it all on his own. Unfortunately, there's no one to watch Jack, so it's impossible for me to go. I really hope he does well - he certainly deserves to after all his hard work, not to mention the ridiculous lengths he's gone to (wasp extract and altitude simulator anyone??). Good luck baby! I'm so proud of you!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Good Rejection Is Better Than Nothing At All

So it's been a while since I've written, since as of late there hasn't been too much to say. John and I have been very stressed out with out of town guests and his race coming up, and unfortunately it hasn't left much opportunity for the two of us to spend quality time together. I'm hoping that after next week (his aunt is here till Monday, and John leaves next Thursday for his race, then comes home the following Monday) we'll sort of get back to normal. For a week, that is, until we go to the mountains with friends and then to California for a wedding. Note to self - don't plan anything for a loooong time.
Anyhoo, a few writing updates: Last week I queried another agent. She referred me to another agent at the agency who requested the first 50 pages. Yesterday I got what I consider to be a very good rejection. It still stings (this was the agent who requested the manuscript almost immediately after I queried her. I'd had high hopes for them, but alas, it appears it was not meant to be) but at least I got some very constructive advice from the agent (well, her assistant I believe. But both she and the agent read my manuscript, so that's good). She said things like: "Michelle and I both think the manuscript has a great deal of promise. You are a great writer, and I felt moved and excited throughout many scenes." and "The writing in this text is solid; I believe that working out the kinks in these few scenes could improve your novel even more. If you would like to do any revisions and resubmit, we would be happy to read again. And, for the record, Michelle and I both fell in love with Shakespeare and his sweaters."
So, the long and short of it is that I was rejected - but, at least there is some hope for a resubmission (although I'm wary after what happened with Jill). I'm just hoping that one of the three remaining agents who has the first 50 pages at least requests a full (would it be too much to hope that someone wants to represent me???). I still have three agents who haven't responded, including my top choice, so we'll see...
To sum up, out of 9 queries:
2 rejections based on query letter
3 no responses
4 requests for materials, with 1 rejection so far
Not bad, right?
Fingers crossed for more good news soon...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ummm... Toto?

Our two years in the D.C. area have been pretty great. We've seen so much and met great friends, had a baby here, and while our second house hasn't been as awesome as our first, it's still not a bad place to call home. But there has been one exception to all that: the weather. The first year was fine - yes, the summer was hot, and yes, there were a few snowy days during the winter. But this year has been RIDIC. We had several massive snow storms over the winter, followed by one of the hottest summers on record. And if the heat and humidity weren't miserable enough, we've had our power go out several times. Up until last week, it had never lasted for more than a few hours (just long enough for our house to heat up like an oven). But on Thursday, and absolutely insane storm (think Wizard of Oz) blew into Del Ray and knocked over trees like they were toothpicks. I watched as our trash cans went whizzing down the street (no way was I going out to get them) and the tree in front of our house splintered apart. I wasn't surprised when the power went out, particularly after seeing the power lines in front of our house flop around like noodles, but I did NOT expect for it to last for 48 hours.
The long and short of it is that we ended up staying with John's awesome coworker and her equally awesome fiance for two nights, and it was actually fun getting to know them. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any work done, the maid couldn't come, and all of the food in the fridge and freezer had to be dumped. So by the time the power came on Saturday evening, the house was a disaster, which meant Sunday was taken up by cleaning. Sunday evening John's family friend came for dinner, and last night his cousin and her husband and two kids were here. So John and I have not had a normal night at home in nearly a week.
Tonight we'll finally be back on our own program, the maid is coming tomorrow, and I am just grateful to have air conditioning once again. Then in a few days time the madness picks up again (guests this weekend and next, John's race the week after that, the Shenandoah's in September, and the wedding in San Diego the following week). I honestly can't wait for this summer to be over.
Fall clothes, here I come! It will make training a hell of a lot less disgusting too. Speaking of which, Sarah and I are supposed to run 14 miles on Saturday... Hmmm...
No more word from agents. Just playing the waiting game and hoping. And praying. A lot.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Waiting Game

The week started out with a bang, with another agent asking for the first three chapters of my book on Monday afternoon. I also queried an agent who was recommended to me by my agent friend in SD, and she immediately asked for the first three chapters as well. So, out of 8 queries I've gotten three responses so far, which I think is pretty good! But since then, nothing, and now I'm waiting... and I think it may drive me insane!
Obviously I wasn't expecting to hear anything that quickly, so I should just be grateful I've heard anything at all. I'm trying to enjoy the possibilities right now, because it's highly likely I'll just get rejections, and I'd rather at least have hope. I'm trying to walk the fine line between positive thinking and getting my hopes up too high. I just don't know what I'll do if nothing comes of these queries. Fortunately there are a million agents out there, but it would just mean more waiting. Le sigh.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to be good about getting work-work done but so far I've been pretty lazy this week. Jack just went down for his afternoon nap so hopefully I'll get some work done. Yesterday I was really bad and napped for an hour, something I haven't done in ages. It was rather glorious. Sarah and I have an easy running week this week, but next week it ramps up to the big time - 4, 7, 4, and 14. I honestly don't mind our long runs - but that mid-week 7 miler by myself might kill me. I can't wait till September when it (hopefully) starts to cool off a little. I'll be so happy when this marathon is over!
Better eat some lunch so I can get to work. Fingers crossed that I hear something by the end of the week!

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Don't Want (Him) To Grow Up

Today's post has nothing to do with writing. Right now, I'm focused on Jack, who for the past week and a half has been on what they call a "nursing strike," meaning he doesn't want to breastfeed. I think it started with the rapid increase in solid food that occurred on our trip to CA - it decreased his demand for milk, which got my supply screwed up, which led to him getting impatient and biting me, which made me switch to bottles until he got over it. I'd been able to nurse in the mornings and at night, but last night he wouldn't nurse, and I lost it.
The weird thing is, I've always said I hated breastfeeding. Sure, I enjoyed the closeness of nursing Jack (pretty much the only time I can hold him without him squirming all over the place) and I felt like I was doing the best thing for my child, but it's been a pretty big inconvenience for the past 7.5 months. I thought I couldn't wait to get my body back, to be able to leave Jack for more than four hours, to be able to sleep in, etc.
What I didn't realize was how much I liked knowing that my little guy was dependent on ME. Nursing is the one and only thing I can do that no other person can do for Jack. He's not one of those clingy babies that hates to be away from his mommy - he's a pretty independent little guy and he likes everyone. But to have Jack all of a sudden stop nursing - even biting me whenever I tried to coax him back into it - felt like such a huge rejection. I know I always said that I'd be happy with 6 months, but I was not mentally prepared for this to happen yet.
Today Jack has nursed all three meals so far, even falling asleep on me before his nap (he's sleeping as I type). Holding him close to me, feeling his soft little hands, hearing his breathing - I am going to miss those things more than I could have imagined. He's 7 months old and I already feel like he's growing up too fast! Sheesh!
So, for now, I'm going to take things one day at a time (I still hold to my previous statement that once those top teeth come in, I'm done). Pumping has its advantages, and so does nursing, and I'm not ready to commit to anything at this point. I still want to finish breastfeeding before the marathon, but I have a few more months before then. In the meantime, there is work to be done...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

One Small Step for Mara-kind

It's a brighty and sunny Sunday morning, and I'm feeling rather chipper because a) I got to sleep in a little this morning b) Jack is taking a nap c) I ran 12 miles yesterday d) I got my first request for materials from an agent I queried blindly!
Not long after I sent out my queries on Friday (about two hours, in fact) I got an email from agent X requesting my manuscript (the query included ten pages of my book, so at least I know she had some clue what my writing was like). I couldn't believe I got a response so quickly, from the agent herself. And it's a real agent too, someone who represents a couple of bestselling authors and has a large client list. Woohoo! Even if nothing comes of it, it made me feel a lot better about my query letter and my first chapter. We'll see if I hear back from any of the other 6 agents (I am expecting to wait around for weeks for that to happen) or if this agent actually decides she's interested, but it's a step in the right direction.
This week I'm hoping to get caught up on work-work, send out a few more queries, and start the new book. Fingers crossed that the agent likes the book!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Always Keep Your Hair in a Ponytail - Or, How to Work With Jack on Your Lap

I've already written about working from home and how much of a pain in the butt it can be, so I won't go into too much detail other than to say that working with a baby on your lap (particularly one with a serious oral fixation - he's chewing on my beautiful desk as I type) is not something that should be attempted by the faint of heart. Today I fired off emails to a handful of agents and will now be waiting in anticipation/fear/dread for the next 6 to 8 weeks in the hopes that I even get a response. I queried 7 agents and I'm hoping that at least one of them will request pages. If not, I either need to rewrite my query letter or seriously rethink my novel. OR start the next one, which is a current goal that I am having trouble meeting.
Jack is starting to get seriously pissed (the holder of aforementioned ponytail is now soaked in baby spit - another good reason to keep it in my hair, because Jack using it to pull himself into a standing position was clearly not good enough) so I'm off to give him a bath. Also, I think he may have pooped.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Halving it All

Today's post is about the trials and tribulations of being a work-at-home mommy. Ask me how I feel about working from home and, depending on the day, you'll get entirely different answers. During deadline, I'm a raving lunatic. I spend most of the time in my office crying in frustration because Jack won't stop fussing and I have a limited amount of time to turn in my columns.
On non-deadline weeks, such as this week, working from home, or in the office with Jack, really isn't so bad. Today, for example, I drove the hour to work, worked for 2.5 hours, and drove an hour home. Jack hung out in his pack n' play, and when he started to get really fussy, my boss (a retired Marine colonel) told me to put Jack in his stroller and then proceeded to take him out for a 30 minute walk. While this was semi-mortifying, it was also very helpful. I got home by 2:15, Jack had napped during both drives so I assumed he was relatively well rested, and I figured I'd be able to do some book-work this afternoon.
That's when things went totally downhill, of course. Ever since our trip, Jack's been eating the solid food like a champ and slacking on the nursing. He slept really late today (still adjusting to the time change I guess) and nursed fine then, but when I tried to feed him again at 11:30, he wouldn't focus on the task at hand. I figured he'd be starving by the time he got home, but instead of nursing, Jack went into a screaming rage that lasted a good forty minutes. Nothing helped - the three attempts I made at nursing him resulted in him biting me, which caused me to scream, which in turn caused him to scream louder. I finally gave him his pacifier and stuck him in his crib so I could pump, and he eventually calmed down and took his bottle like a champ. I'd been toying with the idea of switching to bottles during the day and I'm starting to think I might not have any alternative. He went through a weird nursing strike a couple of months ago and I'm wondering if it's related to teething. I guess I won't know till the teeth come in.
So where is all this going? Well, most of the time taking care of Jack is the "easy" part and it's the work thing that makes me crazy. Apparently things are flip-flopped this week, which leads me to the title of this post, "halving it all." I really believed that I'd be able to work AND raise an infant on my own (not sure where I got that from), but so far I find that I'm either half-assing my job as a writer or half-assing my job as a mom. Even as I type, Jack is fussing in his exercauser and I'm feeling guilty for taking the time to print out an agent list (what I'm going to do when I finish this post, which I'm sort of considering "work" because I feel like it's a good thing to write every day, even if it's not fiction). While work today was relatively stress-free, I personally do not think it's acceptable to have my boss walking my son around in his stroller so I can get my work done. I know at some point (probably around when Jack learns to crawl, which is going to be pretty soon judging by the fact that he's up on all fours now) I'm going to have to decide: put Jack in day care so I can get my work done, or quit my job.
Which reminds me - the reason I thought I'd be able to work AND raise an infant was because I promised myself that I'd quit the job once I got an agent. And of course I had really hoped that would be oh, 6 months ago. Now I feel like I can't quit the job because I don't have an agent, but I'm not sure I can keep going the way I am. Some days I really wish my cares were as simple as Jack's: twirl the purple bug on my exercauser, or bang on the keyboard. Oh, to be seven months old again. Sigh.

Monday, July 26, 2010

On Being Small

Hello again. We got back from Half Moon Bay on Saturday night and I am still in recovery mode. Jack is trying to adjust to the time zone (as am I - couldn't fall asleep till nearly midnight last night) and I am trying to get my life back in working order. It was great seeing friends and family (17 of us in San Francisco, all trying to get on a single bus to Chinatown - good times!) and I really enjoyed the cooler weather, but it's nice to get back to work. Work being my actual job, as well as the pursuit of publishing. The agent did get back to me but had no constructive criticism, CC (a well-known author who had sort of taken me under her wing) has apparently decided she hates me, and my "dream agent" sent a rejection almost immediately. So, where to now? My mom's cousin, a wonderfully kind and generous man, has offered to send my manuscript to his agent at William Morris, so we'll see if they have any words of advice (I'm certainly not expecting representation). Meanwhile, I am eager to get to work on the new book, but I am going to have to do some serious multi-tasking if that's ever going to happen. I also need to compile a list of possible agents and start querying, despite CC's opinion that if I do that, I will be rejected all around.
One of the great things about the weather in HMB was the running. Sarah and I ran 10.6 miles last Sunday with Kim and her friend Christine, which was not difficult because it was so nice and cool. Then I came home to 110 degree heat and wanted to shoot myself. But, with such wonderful running weather, I was able to sort of daydream as I ran, rather than focus on how miserable I felt. As I ran, I started thinking about my book (natch) and the more I thought about it, the more frustrated and upset I got (running and crying is NOT easy), which made me run faster and harder, which was good in and of itself, but not the point. The point is, I started to think about my life and why I want this book published so badly and what it would mean to me. And I realized that right now my life feels... SMALL. I feel insignificant and unimportant, and it's not that I want to be famous or that I think being an author will make me more important as a person, but I do feel like it would give me a purpose and fulfill me on a level that is currently unfulfilled. It's not that I don't love being a mom or think that it's not a big and important job (what could be more important than raising a human being?), but there is the (somewhat) intellectual side of me that always dreamed of having a career, and since it doesn't look like I'm going to have a traditional career at this point (I'm 30 and have never held a job longer than a year and a half), becoming an author would mean that I did SOMETHING with my education and hard work. Maybe it's because I'm surrounded by highly successful people like Sarah and John...I don't know... I just know that I want more out of life. And I feel like I've done the work and put in the time and I've suffered the criticism and fallen down and pushed myself back up, and now it's my turn! 7 months have passed since Jack was born and I don't feel any closer to my goal, but I'm going to keep trying, because despite how dejected I feel most of the time, I just can't seem to quit.
Speaking of Jack, the little nugget is getting seriously frustrated trying to figure out this crawling thing, so I'd better get back to my number 1 job as Mommy. TTFN.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Onward and Upward

Okay, so I was in a wretched mood this weekend. Just after I finished writing my last post, my sister called me in tears after breaking up with her boyfriend. Since misery loves company, we spent the evening and the following morning feeling sorry for ourselves and giving each other useless advice. Later we saw Twilight: Eclipse (the movie was yet another reminder of what success can look like if you ever manage to achieve it!) and I drove Sarah home to D.C. When I got home, my beautiful family was waiting for me, groceries purchased, house relatively in order, pb and j bars for a dinner with friends baked and cooling on the stove. To make me feel even more guilty for being such a grouch, my husband had purchased the most pathetic mixed bouquet ever (two browning roses and a half-naked, drooping daisy amidst some rather sad-looking foliage). A few more tears and a good cuddle with Jack and John, and I was feeling somewhat better. We spent the evening with two awesome couples and their chitlins, drinking wine and eating cheese. I am so grateful to have made a few great mommy friends in the area finally. I am waiting to hear back from an agent to see if she has any last-minute words of wisdom before I continue on my search. Then it's onward and, I hope, upward!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Starting Fresh

Welcome back, Blog.  I retired you for a while, but I think it's time you were resurrected.  And I really hope we can be friends.
Why now, three years after I created Scribble Babble?  I don't know...just to have somewhere to vent, I guess, which was why I started a blog in the first place. It's Saturday afternoon, I don't have much to do, and Jack is blissfully asleep. John is about to go for a three-hour run (insane) and while I could be starting my next novel, I feel like without a little encouragement, I just don't have the will to do it. Sigh.

Oh, and I have work I should be doing. But I really don't feel like doing it. :P