Posted on July 8, 2020 by Ashleigh
I thought my memoir manuscript was complete at 72,000 words when I started querying last fall. A few weeks after she requested my full I received feedback from the amazing @margaretrileyking. As is most often the case when searching for an agent, her feedback came along with a rejection. I didn’t know this in advance, but now I would suggest budgeting for a solid month, maybe two, after the first rejection of a full manuscript to just cry. After that you will be dehydrated and perhaps ready to reread the feedback that came with that rejection. And, like me, maybe you’ll realize the feedback was brilliant and it will make much more sense to you than it did a month before when you skimmed it at a red light whilst choking on sobs mixed with the mutilated remnants of your ego.
After digesting her feedback I devoured fiction, determined to figure out how to tell my story in a better, richer, deeper way. For some books I read the paperback and later in the day listened to the audiobook. Instead of bones, I desired for my skeleton to be comprised of descriptive prose.
I started rewriting, adding more detail, more dialogue, writing the things I had been too scared to write. And the story got so much funnier and so much sexier (editors: if it’s too sexy just let me know, I can part with *a few* of those details if necessary). And then I remembered how the waiting of querying was one of the most awful things I had experienced here at Earth School and I decided to send out just a few queries before I was finished with my revisions, certain I would not hear back anytime soon.
I got a full request right away.
Manny encouraged me to just send the new agent what I had, but I had wandered the nether that is querying for long enough to know that you never just send what you have.
I decided to start from page one, word one, and reread (mostly aloud) and for so many parts, rewrite, the whole damn thing.
And I was determined to do it without making myself crazy or sick.
I started each day with a jog at the lake with the dog. I moved around the house with my laptop. I cut branches and buds and flowers from my yard and filled vases everywhere. I took breaks and put on music. I got into a flow. Time stood still and inexplicably, I got through 92,000 words in 48 hours.
I loved what I sent her.
The next day I woke up at 4:00 am and wrote a new chapter, tucking it in near the end. A few hours later I got another request and sent that agent my new version, 94,000 words.
Then more requests came in and my first offer.
I reached out to agents who still had my query and I sent the manuscript to those who wanted it. Within a day I got a message back from Carolyn Forde and I knew I had found my agent.
She understood. All of it.
She understood the story. She understood me. She understood, without me telling her, what I would want to do next. And she is Canadian, which means we can toast Caesars every time we have something to celebrate.