the second tissue

I have never been so mortified in all my life as when she handed me the second tissue. It was bad enough that she pulled them out to give me the first one.

The advanced reading appointments at the writers conference were only ten minutes long. You pay a large sum of money for those meager ten minutes. And I used part of mine in tears in front of a seasoned agent needing not just one tissue, but two.

In all fairness, I didn’t start crying until after the critique part was over. I handled all of that quite well and was not even tempted to cry. She had some of the best feedback I got from any of the three appointments and I was grateful.

I knew before I sat down that the writing I had turned in was crappy when compared to industry standards. I thought it was decent when I wrote it (otherwise would I have paid professionals to tell me what they thought?), but when I reviewed it before my first appointment suddenly I saw a wealth of things I was previously blind to.

So I knew what I was getting into and beat her to the punch on much of what she had to say while the rest of it I took in hungry and dry-eyed, eagerly writing down each point in my notes. I said thank you and started to get up and she said we have more time and I did pay for this, did I have any other questions for her?

I told her I did before I came in here but I couldn’t think of any of them now and I rested my weight back into the chair, not sure where to go from there. Then she asked me about my kids. I started to tell her their ages and instantly knew I was not going to make it through the sentence.

No fair! I was prepared to remain professional, but now you have just asked me about my kids and my kids connect me to my heart and what with the run in with the pole last night and my dreams of getting a book contract smashed to smithereens my heart is a bit tender right now! Crying in front of an agent is terribly unprofessional but you asked me a non-professional question and now I am crying and you are handing me tissues!

To make matters worse, she was kind to me. If she had just been awkward or mean I could have reeled in the tears and pulled it together. But she kept being nice to me, offering what seemed like genuine care thus making a safe environment for me to continue to lose it. “What else do you do when you are not with your kids? What do you do for a break to get away from them for a while?”

Lady, you are not helping. I write that’s what I do. And I think we have adequately covered that topic. I mumbled something about pictures for the blog and then the bell rang announcing our time was up. Praise the Lord.

I didn’t have to sign up for those critiques. And if I hadn’t, the conference probably wouldn’t have been so painful. But it would have been a lot less valuable too. I would have stayed in my dream world, happy and safe……and wondering “what if?”. I took a chance. I put myself out there. And for now, that is the win. Even if it came with the second tissue.

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4 thoughts on “the second tissue

  1. Mark just posted “A leader’s regrets generally revolve around missed opportunities, not risks taken” – Andy Stanley
    I guess the same might be true for writers? I’m glad you can see the win in being willing to put yourself out there!

    • itsakoolife says:

      I saw that on Mark’s wall and made the same connection. Yes, there is such truth in it. I have no regrets for having gone to the conference and the reading appointments. Thanks Karen!

  2. Max Abbacowe says:

    Your post—and Karen’s comment—reminds me of my favorite line from Björk’s new album: “Best way to start anew is to fail miserably.”

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