Princess: Not my favorite chapter | AspenTimes.com
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Princess: Not my favorite chapter

Alison Berkley Margo

Well, things with my book are not going as I’d hoped.

See, the great thing about not trying is you never have to fail, and I guess that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. People kept telling me I was afraid of my own success, but that’s a load of crap. The truth is, I was afraid of failure.

What’s great about being tagged as a so-called “underachiever” is that I can fantasize all the livelong day about this success I’m supposedly avoiding. I can imagine what it will look like, how I can finally afford to get those laser skin treatments for my acne and hire a personal trainer and never let my roots grow out. I can buy those shoes I’ve been drooling over on Zappos (Free Bird by Steve Madden cowboy ankle booties and pink Ugg patent-leather platform espadrilles) and finally be able to justify buying anything at Lululemon.

I can imagine what it would feel like to actually have some money in the bank beyond the mere amount I need to get by. I can imagine going on vacation for the first time since we bought our house. I can think about maybe buying a car that has fewer than 80,000 miles on it just in case one of ours dies. I can do some of those renovations I’ve been dreaming of since the first time I set foot in this house, like maybe tearing out that sage-green carpet and putting in some reclaimed hardwood, replacing the green linoleum countertops with something earth-toned and granite or sanding all that peeling paint from our decks and staining them properly.

And I can even imagine what it would sound like to be able to say I’m a published author or, better yet, have other people know that, people who dumped me or wronged me or ditched me or didn’t believe I could do it.

For a decade I’ve been living in a fantasy that my life would change once “the book” was published. I would talk about this time in my life as part of my success story. Every successful person always has to tell you about the struggle it took them to get where they are, the hard work, the hardship, the trials and tribulations.

Let’s face it: I haven’t worked that hard. I’ve dabbled. I’d put in a few hours here and a few hours there. And on the few occasions when I managed to put myself up against some kind of self-imposed deadline, I might have a few binges where I worked all night or for several consecutive hours or days at a time. But let’s be real: For the most part, I’ve been living a life of leisure while my husband worked his ass off so that I could “write the book.”

But the truth is, I’ve also spent a lot of time doing yoga, flitting around Aspen, working out, playing outside, hiking the bowl and talking a lot about “the book” and how it would change everything one day. I’ve been gallivanting around the midvalley like an Aspen Princess turned Desperate Housewife of Basalt, shopping at Whole Foods in the middle of the day between my morning cardio and my afternoon fitness class at the new Burn studio.

But when my very expensive quest for having a baby was painfully dashed, I finally finished “the book.”

I conjured up this very lovely story about how my being barren was meant to be because I was supposed to have this fabulous career wherein I would become rich and famous and very, very busy. I would tell the story in all my interviews, how I wasn’t meant to have a child because it would have taken away from all the time I would need to be fabulous. I could picture myself, very well-coiffed and well-heeled and very fit, the envy of all my friends with kids who would look at my toned body and wrinkle-free face and marvel at all the hours of sleep I’d gotten and the fountain of youth that not having children afforded me — not to mention a kick-ass wardrobe I could afford with all the money I didn’t have to spend on child care.

It’s amazing these stories I tell myself. They’re so good, so detailed and so believable.

Here’s the reality: The so-called agent I thought I had on my side, the agent who helped me come up with the idea for this novel a decade ago, the agent I’m friends with on Facebook, who has only gotten bigger and more successful over the years, branching into film and television and even producing movies, the agent whose name I dropped whenever someone asked me if I had an agent (“If she’s still with me,” I’d say, playing the humble card), finally read my completed manuscript.

After the nine weeks I waited to hear from her, I was finally told that she passed.

I let myself be bummed for a day. I lay in bed that night and felt as if I were a stone, sinking to the bottom of the sea.

The next day I prepared myself for the fight. No one ever said getting published was easy. I’d been advised to pitch agents in batches of 10 to 15, which says a lot about what the odds are.

So you send these agents your life’s work, and they are not even obligated to respond. It’s not “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” It’s “Don’t call us, and we probably won’t call you, either.”

It’s like taking off all your clothes and going, “So, what do you think about my body?” or trying to seduce a man who doesn’t want you.

And no matter how much it stings, that rejection, you have no choice but to try again.

The Princess is looking for a day job. Email your love to alisonmargo@gmail.com.


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