Barry Smith: Irrelativity
November 29, 2010
It’s early fall 2005, and I’m in N.Y. meeting with producers.
These producers don’t actually want to meet with me, but I’m not letting that stop me. A month earlier I was in N.Y. performing my “Jesus in Montana” show, and it had gone really well, so clearly some producer must want to put my show up on Broadway, or somewhere nearby. Clearly. I’m new to the whole meet-with-producers world, so I don’t really know what to expect. I figure it out pretty quickly, though, as every meeting goes exactly like this:
ME: Hey, I have a show. Would you like to produce it?
PRODUCER: How did you get past security?
A friend of mine has also arranged for me to meet with a literary agent. This is at the end of my trip, and I’m full up with producer rejection and have no expectations. Also, because this agent is a friend of a friend, I’m sure she’s only meeting with me as a favor. I doubt that she even read the stuff that I sent her. Still, why not – at least I’ll be able to say that I once met with a literary agent.
We meet for lunch at some fancy N.Y. restaurant – her choice. As we’re handed our menus she says, “Everything is really good here. Order whatever you want. It’s on me.”
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When I think about what happens next it still makes my head spin. She asks me questions about me, about my show, about my writing. She says she thinks my story of living in Jesus’ basement would make a great book. She asks if I currently have an agent. She asks if she can be my agent. I say yes. She’s happy. As we leave she says, “Now you can tell everyone that you have an agent.”
And I do just that. I spend the next hour walking around N.Y. calling everyone I know, telling them what just happened. This is big, right? An agent! A N.Y. agent! And she’s the real deal, too. I mean, she paid for lunch!
Over the next few weeks I write, with her guidance, a book proposal and outline. She visits Aspen occasionally. I attend a fancy cocktail party at her condo where she introduces me to everyone in a most flattering way.
Wow. Just wow.
I get to work on writing the actual book, which is an important step to getting a book published. Or so I’ve heard. Like I said – I’m new to this world. She tells me she needs 100 pages to begin submitting the book to publishers. 100 pages? I’ve never written 100 pages of anything before. Not all at once. I mean, this column is barely two pages … longer, if I use lots of ellipses …
But I know this is my big chance, so I sit down and get to work. To my surprise I’m quite disciplined and focused. Hey, look at me – I’m writing a book!
During her next Aspen visit I hand her 100 pages. It’s a Friday afternoon, and she says she’ll read them over and call me on Monday.
Wow. I’ve just dropped off a manuscript! To my N.Y. agent! She’ll call me Monday! Top o’ the world!
She doesn’t call me on Monday.
But hey, she’s a busy woman, what with agenting and all. Friday comes, and she still hasn’t called. I send her an e-mail wondering if she’d prefer to schedule a phone call with me. Agents love that sort of stuff. Right?
Another week passes, and I hadn’t received a call or an e-mail response. I leave another message. I send another e-mail.
A month later, I’ve still not heard a peep. Then a year later. And, as of now – FIVE YEARS LATER. (I Googled her before writing this column, just to make sure she’s not dead. She’s not.)
Now, it’s tempting to think that my 100 pages were so bad that she thought it best to never, ever communicate with me ever again, not even a quick “The deal’s off, and you owe me for lunch” e-mail. But that sort of thinking will get me nowhere.
No, here’s what I’ve realized – she said she’d get back to me on Monday, but she didn’t specify WHICH Monday. Sure, it’s now 238 Mondays later, but that doesn’t mean that today won’t be the day.
Just in case, I should start picking out what to wear on my book tour …
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