Remember last month when I was blogging about my trip to New York to accompany our annual contest winners to meet literary agents? I asked our winners to sum up the experience for me, and here’s Mary Feuer’s experience in her own words:
It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire month since we were in New York. Time has been more than flying over here on the Left Coast–I think it’s passing the speed of light. I apologize for not writing my promised blog sooner, but I have an excuse: I’ve been busy shooting my original web series, “With the Angels,” for Strike.TV.
Anyway, it’s never too late to share observations with the blogosphere, where words seem to live forever, so here are mine.
Let me say up front that I think tag-team pitching should be the standard. Having Alegra (and of course Maria) there, being able to bounce off of someone after getting out of a particularly interesting or challenging pitch, made the whole thing not only less stressful but – dare I say it? fun. The chats we had in cabs or walking down sidewalks in between meetings about each others work were probably the best, most enlightening moments of the trip for me: I felt, by the end of two days, that Alegra, Maria, and I had become collaborators, a de facto writing group strolling the streets of New York. It was a nice feeling.
What impressed me most over the course of our two days of meetings was the way in which both Alegra’s and my pitches subtly and not-so-subtly changed with feedback and discussion. I could almost feel that lightbulb go off over my head, and see it go off over Alegra’s, when a challenging or insightful question was asked. I know I reconsidered the story I was planning to tell more than once, each time getting a deeper understanding of what’s important about it to me.
Ultimately, though, our agent meetings reinforced and illustrated one of the most fundamental truths of what we do: writing, and all creative pursuits, are so completely, totally subjective, even on the business end. One agent would tell us to forget the idea of “literary fiction”–would just reject that moniker wholesale–and then the next would tell with absolute certainty that literary fiction was all the rage. One would respond to the more plot-driven aspects of a story, and the next would be nudging us toward a character study. The lesson, for me, was: Write what excites YOU. Chances are it will excite someone else–you’ll just have to find the right someone else. And if it doesn’t, that’s what rewriting is for!
The New York trip made me thirsty for the kind of immersion, the kind of without-a-net high fiction gives me. It made me want to wish plunge right into my novel, but unfortunately, more immediate concerns have already pushed it to the sidelines of my mind.
Still, coming back to Los Angeles, back to my life, I realize how lucky I am that I make my living writing. it’s not always the most satisfying stuff, or the deepest, or the closest to my heart, but still.. I get paid to put words in a certain order, an order that makes them mine no matter who’s signing the check. That’s an incredible gift. Thanks to Writer’s Digest for letting me live out one more part of that fairy tale life, even if only for a few days.
I’ll keep you posted on Mary and Alegra’s progress in getting their novels published!