Last night, my very well-intentioned friend A introduced me at her party as a "writer," the "creative one in our midst." This has happened before, I am sorry to say; in fact, A has actually gone so far as to introduce me as an author, which is the last thing this unpublished novelist wants to be introduced as. You can imagine the questions that follow:
"Oh, are you published?"
"Have I read anything you've written?"
"Not unless you are an avid reader of Leatherneck Magazine."
Actually, what I usually say is some awkward form of, "Not yet, but I'm trying to get a literary agent," which I fear to the average person who knows nothing of publishing sounds humiliatingly pathetic. Doesn't everyone know some schmo who wants to get a book published? It's not like I can say, "I've been rejected by thirty-some agents, but I've gotten some really great rejections!" and expect them to understand that that's actually a GOOD thing.
So, what do you do? As an unpublished author, do you tell random people you meet that you're a writer or not?
It's tough in my case, because while I was at least a journalist, I am currently nothing. Yes, I'm a stay-at-home mom, which every mother in the history of the universe knows is the hardest job in existence, but even to me that doesn't sound very impressive (especially when you're in a room full of people who work at the Pentagon, or for the CIA, or for the freaking FBI, or in the case of one woman I met last night, as a liaison between Afghani civilians and the U.S. military who has recently returned from 2 years in the Middle East. I just can't compete with this stuff!).
On the drive home, I told John about what had happened, and how while I know it's not a good reason to want to be published, how truly wonderful it would feel to say, "Why yes, I AM a published author. You may have seen my bestselling novel on display at the airport Barnes and Noble." Or at the very least to be able to say, "Not yet, but I just landed an agent who is currently shopping my novel to several editors." Right now, I just feel like a big fat failure, and it stinks!
There may be no truer cliche (at least in my experience) than "When it rains it pours." Two weeks ago I felt like something was happening with my novel, but last week was complete and total radio silence. I even sent out a couple more query letters for good measure, and I just keep reminding myself that Sara Gruen had over 120 agent rejections...
Meanwhile, I am slowly plodding along with BDC, although I never seem to get through more than a paragraph or two without having to research something totally random like ragtime jazz or vintage BMWs. This week the focus will be on John. He has his Foreign Service Orals on Friday, and I don't think either one of us will be able to breathe until Saturday. Hopefully the new raccoon cufflinks I got him from catrabbitplush will prove to be his lucky cufflinks.
Here's hoping for great news this week on all fronts! Good luck honey! I know you can do it!