Let The Reality Shine

September 29th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

Have we mentioned how important it is to understand this business of writing? Good, then we won’t waste anybody’s time with a short lecture on paying attention to the art and the business. You’re already doing that.

At MoorishGirl, author Terri Brown-Davidson celebrates the release of her first, well, first published, novel (Marie, Marie, Hold on Tight) by looking at the journey she took to get there:

This book has been issued as a “first novel.” What this means, actually, is that it’s my first novel published. Actually, I wrote five full-length novels before this one. All were my own creation; one, however, was inspired by an agent herself and the agent’s thinking, when I was still young enough to be susceptible to the various flights of egomania–and power trips–agents routinely take us on.

In her struggle to both find the right agent and the right book to write, Brown-Davidson took a lot of paths, most of which appear to have been rightly blocked with “Do Not Do This To Yourself” signs. But there’s this weird ambition inside all writers, usually fueled by that one person, that perfect person, saying, “I want you.”

And writers want to be wanted so much, they make valiant attempts to become that other person’s vision. Brown-Davidson gave it her best shot before she found something even more powerful: the story that had to be told.

I began drafting Marie, Marie: Hold on Tight (the title’s from Eliot’s “The Waste Land”) while my comp students at the university where I taught were working on an exam (I was so excited to begin the book that I actually couldn’t wait until I got home that afternoon). As the pages started to mount, I realized that the practice I’d achieved through working on five other novels was starting to pay off. This was a novel that I felt capable of writing, that I was excited about. The subject matter was dark–typical for me–but that didn’t dissuade me.

We have friends with agents. We know of at least one who has been signed for several years, without success. A lot of proposals, a lot of rejections, a lot of weird tangents. Being the diplomatic type (ha!), we rarely wonder aloud if this particular agent/author mix is right. Obviously, it’s not our decision to make — and this particular author is more enamored of the trappings of writing than we are. Having an agent working for her matters more than having the right agent. So much so that they’re writing to please specific editors — in a busines where names outside office doors change with the seasons.

Brown-Davidson found success. More importantly, she found faith. No matter what, it’s about the writing.

And, along the way, I learned that no matter what uninformed directives I might receive from an agent or editor or a publisher, I share something very valuable in common with all of you. I’m not a marketing person but, I hope, an artist. And–when I think about that first novel being published–it’s the excitement of creating that prose I return to, the beauty of crafting those characters: and, that, finally, makes the entire journey worthwhile.

File Under: Square Pegs