Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The biggest fan

Just look at the face on that adorable book.
Once, I went to Boston, an hour away, to attend a writer's conference. For the first time, I would meet an agent, and pitch a novel. 
I was nervous.  
I accessorized this future memory with the most luxurious detail available. I booked a limo and a room at the Boston Harbor Hotel, which is a place one doesn't visit, but experiences, between the Molton Brown skincare products and view of the harbor alone. 
I ordered lobster and stared at the water. In twenty-four hours, I thought, I would be mulling over new information about my career, because back then, I didn't know I already had that information.  
I carried a book by Elizabeth Berg, an uber-relatable writer who seemed a little like me, but who actually seems a lot like everyone. I wondered if people would ever think that about my writing.
I brought a collection of Enrico Morricone songs played by YoYo Ma. This, I planned, would be the soundtrack for my experience if down the road, I forgot the way this felt, to chase a dream that probably wouldn't come true, but, oh my God, might. 

And there we sat, me and next-me, eating lobster and looking at the harbor. Not the me helping kids into college, or encouraging a husband through a rough patch in his business, or running a household, or being a good sister or friend or daughter or community volunteer. 

The afternoon darkened over the water and I began to think about giving up. Next-me would be too hard. But how hard? I was afraid. But I was euphoric. I was going to lose something in the morning. But I was going to gain something in the morning, too. The something was hope.

Today, I'm a few years and two books and many articles away from that weekend at the Boston Harbor when I was introduced to the two people who encouraged me to stay in the game: the agent who requested a full manuscript, and next-me, my often fickle, but honest and lifelong fan who has been at my side every day of my writing career, saying if you quit, you won't know how it turned out.   
In May, I am planning to go back to that conference with another book to pitch. I'll meet an agent who might request a full manuscript. I'll send it and maybe I won't get a response. Maybe I will. I don't know. What matters is that I will not be figuring it out, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, on my own. 
I'll be in the company of my biggest fan.  We're looking forward to it. 
Be that. Be your own fan. Be next-you. 
Never give up.


  1. Hi Susan! I'm a forward thinking person myself so this really resonates with me. "If you quit, you won't know how it turned out." fits my life pretty well. We all have so many choices along the way that it's amazing when we can stay focused on one thing we are really meant to be and do and see it through... And yes to being our own biggest fan! Thanks for all these thoughts. ~Kathy

  2. Wonderful post! I can relate, since I will be pitching my novel sometime in 2016. I wish you much luck with your new book.

  3. I've been to pitch-slams and find them heart-racing but fascinating. I was stuck by how young most of the agents were. Didn't get the agent, although had a few close nibbles, but still had a valuable experience. You're right about never giving up. How will you know if you don't try?

  4. I think we lose the experience for the goal. Just getting yourself to a conference, sliding your chair up to the table and finally being in conversation with an agent isn't only a huge confidence boost, it's a story (or a blog post) in itself.

    People talk about the journey, and we tend to agree on its importance before we know what that really means. The journey is as essential to story as characters and plot. It shapes everything.