The 50% Querier

So, I wrote a little book, polished it up, and sent it out into the world. First tentatively, and then with mounting confidence. I received rejections, but also full requests from wonderful agents. When some of them eventually declined they said things that made my chest puff up with pride. My writing was maybe not terrible. Maybe -kind of- good.

I entered a contest called The Writer’s Voice and was able to workshop my query letter with extraordinary writers. My manuscript ended up with some more requests. Exciting ones! And then after the contest, some more requests – just from submissions into the slush pile! My little book is now out with a bunch of agents. Really cool ones.

Why then have I felt, for the last few months, this sensation of full stop? The gears grinding to a halt. The wind-up monkey toy running out of juice just as his cymbals are about to crash together one final time. I, friends, have felt very much like the college kid on the side of the road who thought he could totally make it home with the gas gauge hovering below E. College kid, you need to get more than 5 dollars worth of gas at a time. I’m sorry, it’s just true.

As many of you know, I’ve been experiencing a biological phenomenon that is at once truly magical and utterly exhausting. Turns out it isn’t easy making people from scratch! The first four months, anyway, have been…interesting. We’re so psyched. I’m so psyched, just also pretty sick and sleepy. But I’m rounding a corner now. Feeling a little bit more juice than I have been feeling in the past few months, and getting a little revved up once again.

The other day we went out to Thai food with my sister and her boyfriend, and there was this girl waiting for take out – she was writing in a journal. I got JEALOUS with a capital all those letters. That emotion made me so excited.

Note: Thai food excursion was doubly successful because as an added bonus I actually ate a full dinner. The baby loves Pineapple Fried Rice. I think we’re really going to get along.

The query process for my for THELMA is only about halfway done. I’ve been reading about how many agents a writer usually submits to before calling it a day and I’m not anywhere near that number. It just felt like so much work to do all the research on individual agents and craft their submissions just right. I mean, I could do a big cut and paste job, but no one appreciates that. Basically, I’d been feeling DONE but now I’m not so sure.

I feel like maybe I should put on a helmet or something, because I’m diving back down into the querier’s trenches. This time with baby-power.

Simple Stories

A few years ago, Bastards Inc. did a sketch show called Respect, Comfort, and Kindness. We wanted, at least initially, to create a homespun, campfire feeling. There was a sing-along of Big Rock Candy Mountain I think. The show eventually spiraled into sociopath, gun wielding sparrows and criminal robots. I think that’s also the show where the bottom half of me fell off in a Chinese restaurant — but it was rooted in a quiet story-telling convention. Maybe ironically, but it was pretty warm and fuzzy.

I think about this today because it’s Garrison Keillor’s 70th birthday.

If they don’t invite this guy on to The Office to play Dwight’s dad, I’ll lose my faith in television.

If you’re not super hip like me, you might not know that Garrison is the creator and host of A Prairie Home Companion, the most self-consciously folksy radio show in all of America. He’s the king of “middle America” story telling (literally, I think all his stories take place in Minnesota) and he always strikes an interesting balance between beautiful language,  corny-clean humor, and the insinuation of a sharper underlying intelligence.

Evelyn was an insomniac so when they say she died in her sleep, you have to question that. Probably she was sitting propped up in bed reading and heard the brush of wings and smelled the cold clean air and the angel appeared like a deer in the bedroom and she said, “Not yet. I have to finish this book.” And the angel shook his golden locks which made a skittery sound like dry seed pods and he laughed a long silent laugh and took her pale hand in his.

-Excerpt from Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon by Garrison Keillor

I started listening to A Prairie Home Companion sometime last year, or the year before, and it sucked me in despite myself. Yes, they have some horrible bits. Truly horrible. But part of me thinks that maybe that’s all part of the joke somehow, the larger game.

My hat is off to Mr. Garrison Keillor and his legacy of small, wonderful stories. They make me want to pay attention to the littler things and relish in the ordinary details of life. And the corny stuff makes me happy too.

Happy birthday, G.K.!