Random House didn’t want this, so I’m giving it to you


I wrote this as part of the promotional stuff I’m doing for Del Rey/Random House, but they asked me to cut it way, way down. So I did, and now I’m posting the full version here.

This is what it’s been like for me to be a debut author.

It’s funny; years ago, when Miss Snark was blogging (all her entries are still online–every aspiring writer should read them) she made a point to tell people, several times, that signing with an agent would not make the agent your new best friend. It was a business relationship, not a personal/emotional one.

At the time, I thought that was weird. Is that really something people need to be told?

Much, much later, when I was about to ditch the whole idea of writing professionally–because a life of daydreaming about monsters and filing rejection slips was fine for a yutz like me, but my wife and son deserved so much more, and hello, grad school, I’ve heard you offer this thing called a “career”–at that point, I received offers of representation from a couple of agents.

Each one of them felt like a hug. Weird, but true.

(Quick note to my agent, in case she ever reads this: I don’t actually expect or want a real hug. I don’t much like hugs except in very specific circumstances, and like Miss Snark said, business, not personal. I hope that’s not creepy.)

Actually, that only covers the first few seconds and doesn’t really answer the question. For me, being an unpublished novelist was like being stranded on a desert island. I was stuck there for years, hoping that someone would see the huge “GET ME OUT OF HERE” messages I dug into the beach. Year after year I survived on berries and wild pigs while planes flew overhead and never circled back.

Then one day I looked up to see a helicopter setting down on the beach. Out jumped my agent with a set of clean clothes and a pepperoni pizza. “We’ve found you,” she said. “Now we can take you away from here.”

And then I was looking out the chopper window as we lifted off. I had put my new suit on, and the pizza was way better than the charred pork I’d been eating. The only reason I wasn’t weeping like a beauty pageant winner was because I was in total shock.

At which point the helicopter touched down on the mainland and someone slapped a shovel into my hands. “This trench has to be finished by the end of the year,” they said, and I stumbled off the helipad into a huge crowd of rescued castaways, all working with their picks and shovels in the blazing sun. Get busy! There’s digging to be done!

So what I’m saying is, it’s the most fantastic thing ever.