Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Go where the love is


It's been an odd couple of days for me. I am a woman of relative leisure this week, editing a magazine piece here and there and welcoming more houseguests tonight, even as my book subject and her agent meet with editors at the big five publishing houses, five meetings each day, plus a couple of stragglers on Thursday. By this time next week, we should have a deal. I am trying to be zen about it all, telling myself that however this unfolds, all will be well.

Last evening, the agent texted me and said yesterday's meetings went well. An editor I've worked with in the past also emailed me and said she had her fingers crossed, she was excited about the project and thought this proposal was my best one yet. If it was, it's because of everyone involved, but especially the agent with whom I had many long, deeply thoughtful conversations about the content. He was wonderful in every way, and I think his nudging me in certain directions made the final proposal all the richer.

I am reminded of something the actor Lupita N'yongo said in a piece in Marie Claire earlier this year: "Go where you are loved and you'll do your best work." She was quoting advice given to her by her friend and fellow actor Danai Gurira. "You must always go where you're loved," she explained, "because I believe in the principle that the perceiver affects the perceived. So if the person's perceiving you with love, you're more likely to do a better job."

The agent in this case began with love. From our very first phone conversation, he connected from a place of human vulnerability, and conveyed his faith that I could do this. And even though there were other writers in the running, somehow he always made me feel as if he was rooting for me. I suspect he made every writer to be interviewed by his client feel the same way. Then, when I was selected, he expressed his happiness, when really, the more usual response is business as usual, let's get on with it.

When I gave him the first draft, his critiques were gentle and loving and always delivered alongside things he could praise. Most people in this business ignore what is working in a piece of writing, and go straight to what can be improved. But when we know what is working, we know to deliver more of that. And when we are treated in a loving way, we respond in kind. We're committed, invested, dialed in for the long haul.

I'm so very grateful for this project, even though it comes with some significant challenges—and don't they all. But the challenges feel so much less worrisome when the team is operating from a place of love. May it ever be so.


19 comments:

  1. Wouldn't EVERYTHING be so much better if we all operated from a place of love? Starting with love for our planet and for our fellow travelers on this beautiful, tired rock hurtling through space.
    I am so happy for you. What a lovely and beautiful thing it was when you and that agent met. I still remember how nervous you were and it has turned out that he is someone you have truly connected with and are so comfortable working with. He sounds like an amazing human being. I wish the BEST deal ever for all of you!

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    1. Thank you, dear Mary. He is an amazing human being. As so often is the case, he has also suffered in his life, so he knows. Love you!

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  2. You are indeed loved here!
    Congrats on the new project.

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  3. Thank you so much for letting us have these glimpses behind the scenes in your writing life. I keep thinking about what you wrote about Toni Morrison and that she conveyed to you and others that they are beloved. May everything work out well with your proposal.

    (-: We are all weird.

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    1. am, thank you for indulging me as I process these glimpses out loud. I don't see them clearly either till I try to write it down. Love.

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  4. The agent sounds like not only a good agent, but a good human being. Kindness and love work so much better and thank you for reminding me of that.

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    1. Lily, I think you have put your finger on the essence of it all--he is a kind human being. Kindness is so healing in every regard.

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  5. this is your most recent endeavor? this is a draft of the book to be being submitted to publishers, not the finished book? I know nothing about the process of writing and getting a book published. fingers crossed you get what you want.

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    1. ellen, yes it is my most recent project. I've just completed the book proposal, which includes an overview, sample chapter, chapter summaries for the entire book, plus marketing and promotion stuff and a section on comparable titles. It's the selling document, the thing agents use to get a book deal. After this comes the actual writing of the book, which can take most of a year. So what's happening now is the selling part, which means there's nothing more for me to do until they have a deal. The good news is, after doing a proposal, one basically has a map to follow for the entire book.

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  6. I love reading about this process. Kindness is the one thing we always hope to encounter in this world. So glad you found it.

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    1. robin, kindness is everything. it's what we all need. love.

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  7. Working with truly good people is a privilege and a joy. And it goes both ways - the people you are working with will be appreciating you, too.

    Do I understand correctly that you have been chosen already for the project? Well done.

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    1. jenny, yes, i am doing the proposal and the book, both. it is indeed a joy, because everyone involved is lovely and real.

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  8. Big Huge CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I am truly happy for you. I really enjoyed the piece that you wrote on Toni Morrison so I have the most wonderful feelings about this proposal.

    I love that you connected with your agent. He probably does greet all of his clients with love and happiness and that is something that you can always expect from him. It feels genuine so it must be!

    I was reading an article tonight that said with this full moon that Aquarius is ready to fill our dreams so you got this girlfriend... but we need Leo to pull it all together.

    When you get the details I would love to know so I can get your book. This is really awesome and I am very happy that I have connected with you my friend. Have a great weekend.

    Oh I meant to tell you how awesome it is that you worked in Comfort and traveled thru Fredericksburg. What a small world! I have a girlfriend that just went to Comfort to help her daughter get settled into her home.
    We plan to go back but yes we shall stay in a chain hotel next trip. Black Mold is very scary. Hugs, xxx Beth

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    1. Thank you, Beth. He's actually not my agent, he's my subject's agent, which is how i come to be working with him. He seems to me to be especially talented and conscientious at what he does.

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  9. This is exciting to read, to get an idea of your profession and skills - and your confidence. I am now looking forward to the next developments.
    I am so happy for you.

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    1. Sabine, I'm excited, too, if nervous. Always nervous about whether I will pull it off, but of course, if others are depending on you, there's nothing to do but to do it!

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  10. I'm glad you're working with an agent who understands the need to balance criticism with acknowledgement of (as you said) what's working. t's interesting to see the book writing, sale and publishing process from the inside. Can't wait to hear what happens next!

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