Dark? Me?

           For two years, my children ate pasta so frequently that they would periodically burst out into long strings of Italian in the middle of the night.

            For a lot of that time, we had almost full-time nanny help.  We were paying someone else to care for our boys, even though I was not bringing in an income.

            When we did not have help, I got up early or stayed up late.  I took full advantage of nap times.  I stole away on weekends.  Even while we were moving and in temporary housing, I kept on at it.

            We did it all in service of the dream.  We could picture that book.  J believed it would happen even more than I did, because if I brought my head up too long to think about it, I would get too distracted to write.

            I landed an agent over a year ago.  A good agent with a track record and excellent editorial insights.  She and I have been working closely to get the book in shape.  In September, the same week I gave birth to Lilah, she began pitching the manuscript.

            We came close several times.  People would read it three times before rejecting it.  But, ultimately, they all rejected it.  So, I revised in December because there were more people to send it to in the new year.  I revised with one hand while breastfeeding with the other, and the book was, even in the author’s eyes, good.

            But, my agent has not been pitching it.  Not because she doesn’t believe in it or because she is a negligent person.  There is nowhere to pitch it.  Publishing houses are folding.  Those who are in good financial positions did not get there by buying depressing books written by unknown authors at the onset of a depression.  No one wants dark books right now except the British, and the UK publishing industry is collapsing.

            So, we talked last week, and she is shelving the book.  She says she’ll try again this summer if things look less bleak.  But it is hard not to feel like Molly Ringwald yelling “What about prom?”

            And it is mighty hard to remember that Chekov also probably couldn’t have gotten published in this climate.  Because I know Chekov is a good writer, and I have no validation (other than your generosity) that I am.

            However.  However.

            We are all relatively healthy.  We still have our home.  There is still an income coming in.  (Did you just hear me knock wood three times?)  And, although it is taking all the false belief in myself that I can muster, I am starting in on another project.

            While breastfeeding.

43 responses to “Dark? Me?

  1. it will happen for you. your story is really compelling and written with a skilled hand. i just wish it could be now, soon. hang in there.

  2. Oh, Em.

    The book WILL sell. Your touch with words is the kind of sylph-like weaving that always does.

    I’m just sorry you have to wait, and sorry we do, too.

    FWIW, I believe in you, and I think you’re amazing.

  3. I suppose it makes sense that in this climate, people are looking for happy things to read……but damn that truly stinks.

  4. Yes! So glad to hear you are starting another project! Sorry about the rejections though. Maybe after this next project you’ll be able to sell the first one. I know I’ve read about that happening.

    I know you are a fantastic writer. I’ve thought so ever since the first week of English class in the 7th grade.

  5. I’m glad you find it in you to pull yourself up and start on something else. That says a lot.

    Some day many will enjoy your work. It will be worth it.

  6. Good for you. I wish it could happen for you NOW with this first book, but you’ve done your part and moving on to the next is what your job is. That and breastfeeding, of course.

    You’ll have your dream.

  7. It’s good that you’re working on another project ebcause as soon as your first book gets published — and it will — the published will be begging you for book number two. 🙂

    Hang in there!

  8. Um….I WANT TO READ THAT FREAKING BOOK. Unbelievable. I know you are going to wince when I ask this, but….would you consider self-publishing? Many of the cool kids (and highly respected cool kids, I might add) are doing it.

  9. Oh I know this must be disappointing. I work in publishing – have for 10 years – and I’m not the least surprised. I know one pub house that told its editors to stop acquiring new manuscripts – an unheard of move. Another, very successful, that cut the number of books they publish in half.

    It will happen for you though! Things will turn around and it will happen.

  10. Damn, Em. I’m so sorry. I know the climate now just sucks in publishing and that’s so not fair. I know your book must be wonderful and someone, sometime will be very, very sorry that they didn’t publish it.


  11. I am an (academic) author, and I can empathize with the terror that something you have invested so much in is not going to be shared (for now) with your intended audience. Have courage. If your blog posts are even a small window into your talent, I am confident that your work will be in print. I am glad you have not succumbed to hopelessness and have decided to begin another project!

  12. Now, I know absolutely nothing about publishing, but I have heard of books that were passed on several times suddenly being remembered when the climate was right and getting published. Hopefully, that will happen for you.

    It must be tough after working so hard. Hang in there, and keep writing.

  13. I am so impressed that you were able to DO it with all the turmoil in your life. I have a tough time just rallying for a post. Finishing it should make you proud. I know it is good, and it will find a place … in time.

    Keep moving forward. Isn’t there some saying that it is the act of the work itself that brings merit (or something like that?).

  14. I’m sorry it’s not the right time for your book. But this situation probably won’t last forever, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself. And when things turn around, you’ll be ready.

    In the meantime, good luck with your new project! I know something about writing while breastfeeding. 😉

  15. You know what did boffo box office during the Great Depression?


    All you need to do is put some toe-tapping dance numbers in your book, and you’ll be golden!

    (And I’m looking forward to your next book, even if it doesn’t have any tap.)

  16. Oh, man. I’m sorry. But at least she’s shelving it and not just ditching it, you know? It’ll get published. Just not on the timeline you hoped for initially.

    And the fact that you’re starting on something else now is great. Multi-book deals, baby! (What, too cheerful? Maybe so.)

  17. i’m sorry. i am heartened to hear that you’ve not lost faith in the book or yourself, and that you’re still working.

    my acting teacher in college used to always say “now begin” and I think of that often. No matter where we are, whether we’re feeling triumphant or defeated or lost or whatever… we can, once again, “now begin”

  18. This really, really sucks. I don’t quite know what to say as you might not be registering much other than it sucks. But the climate is bad, and you are a fine, talented writer and your time will come.

    Good luck on the new project. The act of writing will pull you through.

  19. Oh hon…I’m so sorry. That’s my worst nightmare. Frankly, I think it’s the fear of that very thing that keeps me from getting serious about getting published. But you know what? You did it. You put yourself out there. And that is NO small thing.

    I’m sure your book is lovely.

  20. Sorry Emily. I love your writing and I’d love to read your book. But in time. Dark is good. As Jacob says, sometimes it just needs a little tap to make it swing. Good luck with the new one.

  21. Oh, my friend. I am so sorry to hear this. I know it’s not the end of the world, I know you have your house, job, health, etc, but still… this is a big loss. I’m hoping everything picks up by summer and that we’ll see your book on the shelves by next year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  22. I have to tell you that I read your blog religiously without even knowing you. The fact that you can keep a perfect stranger hooked says a lot. Good luck and keep posting!

  23. Oh, Emily, I’m sorry. Just know, one day it will get unshelved. I have one that I can’t even get an agent on. Because they are tanking. But there is always next year. And does this mean yo are coming back? Because I’ve been missing you. 🙂

  24. you? are amazing.

  25. I hope the publishing climate changes soon, for you, and so we can all read what I know will be an amazing book.

    Looking forward to the day I can walk out of the bookstore with your book. It will happen. (You know how much I think this stinks for you right now. Doesn’t seem fair at all.)

  26. ah. bummer, Em. not much to say that hasn’t already been said but I second what Angela said/asked. And, dude, please keep the faith in your abilities.

  27. Aww, man, that bites. I’m sorry for your disappointment, but I’m not giving up hope that one day, I will read your words tucked between two hardcovers.

  28. This must be disappointing and frustrating. But don’t give up on that book. A lot of famous books were rejected many times before they found a publisher. Its time will come.

  29. Bummer. But it’ll happen.

  30. Heck…all of the people that read your blog would buy your book….

    But, I know that right now, that is not enough.
    I have a feeling that it WILL happen for you. Keep on plugging.

  31. Ugh. How frustrating. But I have noticed that things just seem to fall in place when you least expect it. I have a feeling it will work out.
    Hang in there!

  32. So frustrating…and I was looking forward to reading it! (still am!)

  33. Oh, emily, I am sorry. I think someone had a grand idea when she suggested self publishing. I know your many blog readers would buy, read, and get the word out. Think of it as indie publishing with your own label.

  34. patience is a virtue or so I have been told. your prom day will come. be patient. because, clearly you have talent.

  35. i am sorry i came to this post late. just sucky, but i am still excited to read it some day.

  36. A great writer reflects the times he or she lives in. You should write comedy to battle the darkness. You’re at least as funny as dark. Also the funny dark combo seems to sell pretty well.

  37. Ugh.

    I’m frustrated for you.

    And impressed that you seem to have found a way to work around it and on to more (better?) things. That says a lot.

    While breastfeeding.

  38. i’m way late but wow, that sucks. and makes me sad, b/c while i know publishers are in trouble, this fear of the dark is making me crazy.

    i think the time for your book will come. it is a story that deserves telling.

    and the fact that you got it written and are still writing – while breastfeeding seems to limit even my ability to do laundry – is worthy of a great deal of credit.

  39. Of course this is a setback and not what anyone wanted, but the book will get published and it will sell. And no, I’m not just saying that. You have not only a gift, but a very important story to tell. Think of how many you have helped (whether you know it or not) during your difficult journey… and think of EVERYTHING you went through during that period.
    I’m looking forward to attending your book signing one day!

  40. Margaret Diehl

    The same thing happened to me last fall. The agent loved the book , but was too worried to send it out. I haven’t even called her since then. I’m thinking it’s best to ride out the storm. I’m trying to write something more commercial and just get through the day. It’s odd reading your posts and thinking “this is one of the best written blogs I’ve found” and then hearing that you can’t get published. Not that it surprises me. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to take fiction seriously anymore–I’ve spend so many years writing novels. Had three books published and well-reviewed but never with the numbers to attract today’s editors. Out of print. So I blog instead. At least I have readers.

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