We were lying in bed watching TV, our laptops on. Suddenly she stiffened. “I have to go for a walk.” She saw my look. “Don’t’ worry, it’s not you.”
I waited, watching the real-life American carnage on CourtTV. She came back five minutes later and got back into bed. I put an arm around her. “Want to talk about it?”
“That frikkin’ agent in New York rejected my proposal.”
“Did he tell you why?”
James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces apparently wrecked the market for autobiographical works from unknowns after the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed book was revealed not to be a memoir. The agent said it would be several months before editors commission such works again, pointing to some edits she might make in the interim.
“Most writers would kill for a rejection like that,” I said. “He’s telling you it’s marketable in a few months, and that you can use that time to edit it.” She smiled weakly. “He’s also a man. Didn’t I say that this is very much a woman’s story, and that you should focus on your experience as a mother? His hobbies are yachting and golf, for God’s sake — he’ll never understand it. You’re going to break the heart of every mother in America with this book. Approach a female agent and you’ll sell your manuscript in a matter of months.”
“Thanks, babe. You’re right. You know, this is one of the things that’s so great about our relationship. This whole mutual support is so powerful.” We talked excitedly about the edits, and I made her laugh about how the male agent’s going to feel when he sees her book soaring up the bestseller lists. She rejected the idea of looking for an agent on the West Coast, at least for now. “I’ve just always wanted to be able to say ‘I’m going to see my agent in Manhattan’.” I didn’t question her — we all have our dreams, and I want to make hers reality.
Three weeks later she forwards me an email from a female agent in Manhattan. The agent is interested and wants to see more of the manuscript, together with a marketing plan. “See that?” I told her. “It came on the twenty-first. Your lucky number’s three and mine’s seven. Three sevens are twenty-one.” We set to work editing the documents.