Up until this past week my self-esteem has been in the toilet. Here’s the story.
It’s been almost a month since I cut ties with my agent.
The thing is that she hadn’t made any progress in the three years I was with her and the only reason I stayed was because I liked her and she liked me and well, she agreed to represent me. So the truth is, I stayed with her out of desperation, and I know, for sure, that doing ANYTHING out of desperation is such a terrible, terrible thing energetically. ‘Cause you know what? The f***ing universe– it knows! It knows the truth! That if you are doing anything out of desperation, then the truth is, you don’t believe in it! You can’t fake believing. Man, you really and truly can’t. This kind of desperation just stalls you and you don’t grow. It sucks.
I cut myself lose…
So here I am. All alone. Shit. It’s scary. At least with my agent I had a sense of security– albeit false. But, hey, it worked while I used it.
Self-Publishing…the thrill is gone.
Prior to the pivotal decision to terminate my contract with my agent, I had been on the track towards self-publishing, again. I had a pile of books that had a small fan base already and no grand notions of a crazy book deal, so I figured, what the hell. Can’t hurt, right?
I hired an editor to work on the revisions, and I commissioned an artist for the cover. I was even going through my database of contacts and getting ready for marketing again. This all was still with my agent, who never really saw my self-publishing as a problem, which, I think, in a way, kind of made me feel odd. I mean, shouldn’t she be more encouraging and aggressive about hooking me into a non self-published situation? ie. A regular publisher? Anyway, I was on this path of, well, you know, more of the same, and I have to say, all the while, something inside didn’t feel right. I was waiting to feel what I felt the first time and even the second time I self-published, a fire, an excitement, a thrill.
And it never came.
So, you know how life can be. It kind of throws truth at you in these really funny ways, especially when you kind of ignore the YELLING TRUTH going on in your head. So, I was ignoring these feelings, and, then, out of the blue, I was on the phone with my editor I had hired, and she said what I now consider to be magic words:
I mentioned you to an agent friend of mine….and, truthfully, that’s all I had to hear. The proverbial light bulb went on in my head– and it wasn’t on a dimmer. It glared, it flared, it flashed. Hello, your agent, the one you love so much, who “gets” you, has been submitting your first book for 3 years and has not one offer. She hasn’t queried the other books, seems stuck on this first one, even though it hasn’t gotten us in. It ain’t working, my friend. Time to wake up and rethink this whole thing.
Over the years, during my contract with my former agent, a few other agents contacted me, especially after I won the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, as well as when I won the IPPY for MSV. Even after the publication of both books was long gone, I would get a few emails from my MySpace page, from interested agents. I rejected each one. After all, I had an agent. Never mind that that agent hadn’t gotten us a deal. I just thought, I’m lucky she is sticking with me. She must believe in me.
Recently, I have begun to question that line of thinking. The harsh reality is that even if someone believes in you and you like him or her, that doesn’t mean you should stay and more importantly that doesn’t mean it will lead to success.
So I don’t know if it was simply just me ready to hear the Truth or what, but minutes after I got off the phone with my editor, I frantically wrote a letter to own agent asking her to let me out of my contract. Somewhere, even before this light bulb moment, I had been thinking about cutting my ties. I am going back to school in January for an MFA in Creative Writing, and I thought, you know, nothing has happened with her so maybe I should just take everything to school and see what kind of things might happen there. But what prevented me, up until this moment, was my fear and guilt, which if you read this blog regularly, you know I constantly battle with.
So, I didn’t send the new query out but waited to hear back from my current agent. In further conversation with my editor, I realized this new prospect, her agent friend, wasn’t a sure thing. That actually this was the beginning, or re-beginning of me getting myself back out there, alone, submitting to agents and maybe even publishers.
I suddenly felt like I woke up one day and was spit out on the pavement of the cold and hard concrete world of submissions–again. Not to mention that I felt a little bit of resentment at my self– why did this take me so long to admit things with my agent weren’t working?
Needless to say, I felt pretty depressed.
So with my self-esteem in the toilet, and in desperate need of an escape, I turn to, what any other thirty-something does now a days, FACEBOOK.
Okay, so Facebook. If you don’t know anything about it, it is kind of like an electronic yearbook signing. You know, remember, every year when you got your yearbook? You would schlep the thing around the school, and people would sign it. Then you would secretly keep track of how many and who exactly signed your year book and how cool it was when people wrote inside-jokes or took up pages and pages, or if you were like me, your year book was so crammed with people’s notes that you had to use the cover and the pages that barely had room for written text. Now, I am not braggin’ but¬–
So that’s what Facebook is, only, well, we are all in our thirties, with years and years more of life and baggage, and if you are like me, well, you have tried very hard to put the bad stuff from high school and post high school aftermath out of your head and really focus on the positive, like the notes in your yearbook or the pics in your non-digital photo album. In my head, the good things are much better than reality, and, of course, the bad things are 500 times worse.
At first, my foray into Facebook was a very casual, once-in-while checking thing, and most of the time people were ”friendsing me”, which means they saw my profile and sent me a little note saying, basically, “let’s be friends”. Some were blasts from the deep past but most weren’t surprises.
Now, here’s the other thing, there’s this tool, on the right side of your Facebook Profile page that lists all the people who you may know, based on the Friends you currently have and the network you are in. At first, there weren’t many and most, I honestly didn’t know or remember.
But, then, more and more people seemed to be showing up. That’s when I started to, well, kind of get like, emotional, every time I logged on.
I would see that list on the right hand side get bigger, and because I am an insecure f***, I would think, gee, so-and-so is on Facebook and shit, why haven’t they “Friendsed” me?
Then people started posting old photos–
¬–one was of me as a cheerleader, 7th grade! AHHHHHHH!!!!
Other pics were of high school, none of me. I have to say, I felt a little sad, and, okay, a little left out. Then, I was like, oh my God, was I a total loser with no friends in high school? I started to hunt, frantically for some evidence that high school wasn’t a total bust.
And I found it. Buried deep within my living room armoire. Albums and albums of me with my buddies in high school and– tada– most of them were the people on Facebook, those same people I wondered, gee how come they haven’t “friendsed” me?
So I scanned the photos in and posted them.
Would anyone remember this stuff?
Then, suddenly, message after message, hey, that’s me and hey, I remember that. Prudence Island field trip, 7th grade, Homecoming sophomore year. My 16th birthday party. 5th grade Pop Warner dance.
Those people on the right, well, they emailed and posted messages and–
How sad, Facebook gave me my self-esteem back. These people that I share such a rich and long history with, they don’t know or probably care whether or not I am self-published or resubmitting for the 900th time to agents and publishers.
How sad, too, that I couldn’t just look inside myself and find this realization anyway.