Yesterday my youngest granddaughter–you know the age, eight going on twenty-five–brought me a gift. Her light brown hair was tangled on one side and her lips were purple from the grape juice she’d been drinking. She was wearing gray knit shorts over black leggings and a short-sleeved black t-shirt that had Believe written across it in rhinestones. Her fingernails were Wocka Wocka red and her toes were Divine Swine purple. She did not drop her eyes or shrug her shoulders. Her mouth stretched wide in a smile and a small dimple appeared. She held her head up, stuck her arm straight out and said, “Here, Gramma, I made this for you.”
I looked at the piece of paper covered in hearts and flowers and three words–“I love you Gramma,” and smiled back at her. “Thank you sweetie,” I said, “it’s beautiful.” She tilted her head, grinned even bigger and said, “you’re welcome.”
What I want to know is what happens between eight and the rest of our lives, between the time when a simple note is a masterpiece and the time when we can’t even get a simple note in response to–well, maybe not a masterpiece, but certainly a worthwhile effort?
Yeah, that’s my not so subtle way of whining about the submission process for my book. I just wish I could get someone to actually read it, THEN say they didn’t like it, you know? At least if that happened enough times I would know the manuscript was in some way inadequate rather than just insufficient, you know? I mean, I know the agents are trying to be kind–“not right for us at this time, not a good fit, not what we’re looking for.” However, they all translate to the same two letter word, NO. There’s no appeal process, no second chance, no explanation. NO. Sigh.
But about the time I’m thinking I should just retire from writing–I know, how do you retire from something you’ve never officially done? Anyway, about the time I think about just giving up, something happens that makes me wonder if there’s hope.
Like last week when my great-nephew (good grief I am old, I don’t just have a great-nephew, he’s in college)–when my great-nephew, Andrew, told me he was reading my book and thought it was pretty good, I was, quite literally, speechless. This young man that I see about two or three times a year was reading my book? About two women in their fifties? And he wasn’t getting extra credit or money (I don’t think. . .)–he was reading because he was interested. And get this, he said he was going to continue reading. Hmph.
Does that mean it’s not awful? Or worse, boring? Does that mean I should send it to another twenty agents? Or maybe I’ve been focusing on the wrong market. Instead of Women’s Fiction, I should try, is there a young adult male category?