Dancing Before the Void

Imagine stepping out onto the stage for a big audition. The lights are blinding; the audience, if there is one out there, is silent. You are prepared, you’ve worked your ass off to bring the best possible performance, but you don’t know what the casting director is looking for. All you know is that they love actors and the craft and that they are interested in seeing something dramatic, maybe multi-cultural, with some humor and relevant topical edge. And they want to know if you are already famous because that’s a definite plus. So there you are on the stage, singing, dancing, emoting with as much energy and charm as you can muster in front of a void. When you are done you exit the stage in silence and note a poster by the door thanking you for your audition and informing you that you will be notified in four weeks to six months if they are interested. If you don’t hear from them you have to understand a lot of people audition and it is impractical to get back to everyone. Every day you wait, checking the email and the voicemail. You vacillate between star-eyed optimism and despair. You imagine your audition being discussed in meetings, but some days you imagine people saying, “Hey, this one might be the one,” and other days you imagine them bent double, snorting coffee out of their noses. Derisively.

So, that’s pretty much what it is like to send a manuscript out to agents and publishers. I don’t send it until it’s done and as good as I know how to get it. I’ve had people read it and advise me. I prepped and mailed it, following specific and sometimes confusing directions that are different for every agent/publisher and then I wait. I don’t know if anyone gets past the first page, or even the title page, or even the cover letter. If I do hear back I get a form letter in a self-addressed stamped envelope that I myself included in the packet. It says they don’t think they are the right representation for the project but they wish me well. Then I send it out again. My current practice is to have three in process at all times, so every rejection generates another query. It isn’t fun, but it is the deal and unless you are famous, everyone goes through it. As my dad would have said, “It’s good for you! It builds character!” Whatever. Anyway, the silence is killing me, so I am putting the first thousand words or so of my current manuscript onto a new page on this site, entitled Hollywood University (look up at the top of the page next to “Home” and “About.”) It isn’t the novel I referenced in an earlier post or fiction like Sarah’s Journal, it’s a memoir of a friend of mine from Rwanda that we’ve been working on for four years. Please read it. Let me know if you like it, or better yet, tell your friends to check it out. If you really like it, subscribe to this blog and you will be notified when I post again. If I get enough response, I’ll put another section on. It is a great story, and though I still hope one day to sell it, right now sharing it with you makes me very happy.

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