How to go to a writer's workshop and cry in public
I was fortunate enough to go to a writer's workshop today not far from home. (My usual reason for not getting to such things is that it's too far to go and I have too many children.)
I was pretty excited not least because a real life literary agent was going to be there and I was hoping to say, "Hi, this is me and this is my manuscript and would you look at it pretty please?"
So it was very disappointing when we heard the sad news that the agent couldn't come at the last moment due to illness in the family and things for me kind of went downhill from there.
To begin with I noticed that I was being pushy and forward and telling people all about my book that's already been published and is shortlisted for the award blah blah blah and making sure that everyone knew I was a real writer. The stuff was just coming out of my mouth. Embarrassing.
To make matters worse I started to cry when I was talking to the very lovely editor who was running the day. I was talking to her about my book and she was helping me to refine my 'pitch' (basically your book in two sentences) but she was being fairly forthright and direct and all of a sudden I suddenly felt really small and pathetic and as though my whole story idea was hopeless. The fact that no agents have returned my phone calls suddenly seemed reasonable. Of course they wouldn't - because the whole book belongs in the bin!
I had to bite my lip, pretend to go and get a drink and then go outside and wipe my eyes. I nearly got away with it until the editor came out to find me and tell me something else and then there was no way to pretend I wasn't crying so I just blubbed. It was really embarrassing.
I came away feeling desperate, ridiculous and small. But it really had nothing to do with the editor and what she said. It was more that I'm so invested in this whole idea that I'm really taking everything personally. The whole task of getting a novel published just seems impossible and bigger than I can do.
But then, I still don't think I'll be giving up. I just need to sit in a corner for a few hours and lick my (self-inflicted) wounds, think it all through and recover. And then I'll get out there and try again.