Friday, January 28, 2005

Fingers and toes crossed

I don't believe you'd like it,
you wouldn't like it here.
There ain't no entertainment,
and the judgments are severe.
The Maestro says it's Mozart,
but it sounds like bubble gum,
When you're waiting for the miracle to come.
--Leonard Cohen, "Waiting for the Miracle to Come"

I don't know if I should even tell you this, as I'm setting myself up for mass-scale public humiliation. Here goes:

February 25, 2005 will mark the ten-year anniversary of the night the fiction-writing virus first infected me. I spent the evening watching my friend's son play guitar in a two-man blues band at a coffee shop in Catonsville, Maryland. I tried espresso for the first time that night. The combination of caffeine and good music synchronized my brain into The Zone. My actual surroundings faded, and I began to see a man in a much darker coffee bar drinking espresso, watching a blues band, when strange things start to happen. A mysterious woman enters and changes his life.

Thus began my first novel, which I like to refer to as my "practice novel." It's funny as hell and contains some incisive description, but the story has so many holes and implausibilities that even with ten years' experience I still can't repair it.

Anyway, some time very soon, maybe even today, my proposal for a fantasy trilogy is going before the acquisitions committee of a major publisher. Major as in take-over-the-world-someday-and-mold-it-in-its-own-image major. (No, it's not owned by Rupert Murdoch.) The acquisitions committee is the last step before they make me an offer. They give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down (why do scenes from Gladiator keep flickering in my mind?).

My proposal has the enthusiastic support of the line's senior editor. On the other hand, she's one voice among many on the committee, which include folks from the marketing department, people who can peer into the minds of Ms. Constant Reader 2007 and discern what she craves.

My instinct is to cringe and wait for the blow, for the rejection that is statistically likely. It seems too storybook-y for something astronomically wonderful to happen to make up for the rolling stone of misfortune that began with Election Day and continued through wrecking my car and my husband, then last weekend when I spent an entire convention in my room with a stomach virus. This boulder of bad luck has too much momentum. Lately my attitude has been rather Russian: Things could always be worse, and they probably will.

But send out some hope, prayers, ritual sacrifices (wine and honey only, please, no animals), good karma, whatever, for me anyway, would you? Fling your "Jeri is awesome!" thoughts towards Manhattan as hard and loud as you can.

I have to wait until Ivanova goes to sleep to try it myself. Where's that vodka?


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Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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