Friday, May 29, 2009

Maverick philosopher Karl Kraus said, “There are two kinds of writers, those who are and those who aren't.”
I like to call the first kind—the lucky ones and the second kind—the rest of us.

The lucky ones came from interesting, important families. They wrote their first novel at age six and their proud parents had it professionally printed and bound then gave signed copies away for Hanukkah bearing the note, With love from Our Little Writer.
The lucky ones received subscriptions to The New Yorker and Macbooks for birthday gifts. They did well in English classes and wrote poetry when the family dog died, unlike the rest of us who got subscriptions to People magazine, went to English class stoned and stepped over the dead dog for hours, refusing to believe our best friend was gone.

The lucky ones? They went to colleges their parents paid for and got MFA’s. They published stories and essays in collegiate journals and chained themselves to library carrels to protest censorship. They traveled in the summer to desolate places where they wrote thousand page manuscripts they later burned because they felt too indulgent. They studied with Pulitzer Prize winners who invited them to weekend long cocktail parties in the Hamptons, parties peppered with literati elite.

The rest of us went to cheesy junior colleges in Upstate New York, where we lived in houses we couldn’t afford to heat and took the easy courses so we could party most nights and still keep a job, because how else were you going to pay for Lambrusco and that case of ramen noodles? We bought legal pads and pencils and two hundred and fifty dollar cars because the best bars were across town and buses didn’t run after midnight.

The lucky ones got jobs in publication right away, or took posts teaching at real schools with credentials, or maybe spent a year in Prague then returned to a full ride at Breadloaf, after turning down Yaddo.
The rest of us ended up managing shoe stores or moving to California with our stripper boyfriends who drove Land Cruisers and kept giant pythons in glass cages.

The lucky ones wrote their novel in a single year, showed it to mentors who happened to be best-selling authors with high profile literary agents on their speed dial. They sent a query letter drafted over real Italian cappuccino then took a nap, only to be awakened by a phone call from Ms. Perfect Agent offering representation and the world, on a silver platter. During this call, words were dropped like magical, heart wrenching, masterpiece and poised for success. Before any papers were signed, word leaked out and a secret copy of the manuscript found its way to the desk of a renown NY literary critic who was so enveloped by the story that her i-phone went untouched for a record seventeen minutes. Within twenty-four hours, the lucky ones sold their debut novel for seven figures at auction, sealing the deal with both agent, editor and Steven Spielberg over champagne at Elaine’s.

The rest of us? After two babies, twelve moves, six jobs, and ten arduous years of work, after three novels, hundreds of agent queries, seven conferences, four pitch sessions, and three near misses, the rest of us might finally have found someone who gets it. Someone who sees what we see, someone who believes in our story, in our work, in us. Someone we might have stalked for years via the internet—it’s much less creepy that way—or in person under large hats and sunglasses at that conference in Florida, but never followed them into the restroom (on purpose). That agent may have been someone we were led to after an expensive visit with a Scottish psychic cat whisperer, a visit we would write off as research if we weren’t already in trouble with the IRS, an agent that actually followed through and sent an email asking to call.
And the next day, when the phone rang and you spit your coffee across the desk, you felt the pitter patter of your heart as he asked if the manuscript was still available, as he asked if you’d like to work with him, as he said that he thinks your manuscript has the potential to be a “big honking book” until you’re slapping the desk and screaming, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” not unlike your favorite Meg Ryan scene from When Harry Met Sally, except you’re not so sure you’re faking it.
And later, after we have pinched ourselves and hugged our dogs and posted updates on Twitter and Facebook and our blogs. After that?
The rest of us will finally call ourselves one of the lucky ones.

Linda Sands recently signed with Josh Getzler of Writers House to represent her novel,
We’re Not Waving, We’re Drowning, a work that’s been called The Hours in Savannah.

More about Linda:
Her website:
On twitter
Her Blog: Another Good Thing
On Facebook
Linda Sands, Atlanta


Kristy Kiernan said...


Loved this, and congratulations. Best wishes for quick sale and a wonderful career.

rockygrace said...

Just wanted to say that "We're Not Waving, We're Drowning" is a fantastic title. I can't wait to read the book!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

This was wonderful! I'm after the book!

Chris said...

If the blog is anything like the book, can't wait to read it!

another good thing said...

Thanks ladies. Your support and well wishes are much appreciated.
I'll be sure to post back when this baby sells. And with that in mind, I REALLY hope to talk to you soon!

All best,

Andy said...

I'm not clapping, I'm genuflecting. Best of luck with the book.

lakeviewer said...

Crazy right! What we have to do is form a cooperative of the Others.