The Eleventh Round of queries went out May 4th, 2015, in an effort to try utilizing the ways of the Force to get the attention of a literary agent.
But it would seem that I may have made yet another mistake for everyone to learn from by example, as I realized days after the fact that last year about this time, I sent out the Seventh Round of queries on Cinco de Mayo to a chilling silence (see "The Seventh Round"). And during that post, I was commenting on how the previous year I had done something similar by sending out not one but two rounds at a time on Christmas Eve (see "The Fourth and Fifth Rounds"). Internet articles and chat boards would quickly clear up this latter rookie mistake, but for the life of me I can't understand why early May is yet another Bermuda Triangle when it comes to launching correspondences into the void.
And so here we are again, approximately one month after this Eleventh Round went out, and with the exception of some immediate auto-responses and a few legitimate rejections, there has been no word from the fleet.
It may just be time to concentrate all power on that Super Star Destroyer.
Frank Lapidus, if you're reading this, would you like to take a stab at a book cover design?
According to FedEx tracking, as of yesterday morning my first full-manuscript request has arrived at the door of a potential literary agent. This is a big deal! Last week when I was scouring the Internet just to find out how best to format such a thing for delivery, the first few sentences of every post I read said that I should first congratulate myself, because this alone meant that I've made it through the slush pile and attracted the kind of attention that only a few attain.
It certainly is a glorious feeling sending something like a manuscript out in the mail, knowing that the physical pages themselves are being carried across country packed neatly in their own form-fitting, 8 ½ by 11 box. And even now I think about how great those pages are going to look when that box is opened to reveal all of my hard work. I told some friends of mine recently who seem to be quite optimistic about this new step in my writing career that for me this is comparable to opening a business or building a house, that having had no children of my own, these are the kids that I'm raising and sending through college.
Writing to me has always been a constant, a thing that I'm simply wired to do regardless of whether or not I reach any level of success, and so even the smallest of victories feel tremendous. Being home in New Orleans now for a little over two months, I find myself still hunting out the same old quiet places to write from my comparative youth, a habit of mine that only in retrospect did I realized I'd been doing for the better part of the past twenty years. I've done this everywhere I've lived, and it's consistencies like that one that make it easy to understand who I am at my core.
And so now as my fingertips gently brush the golden ring that I've been reaching for since the First Round of queries went out almost two years ago, never before have I felt so much in the game for real. Believe me when I say that email submissions and hard copy submissions are two different beasts. Right now with any degree of luck, the industry person who requested to see more of the rooms in this house that I've built is thumbing their way through the structure page by page and one square foot at a time, and it takes every bit of my writer's imagination not to think that they're hopefully enjoying all of the amenities that I've put into place for their visit.
Since returning home to New Orleans last month to stay, of the many places that I've revisited was this one, the New Orleans Museum of Art. As I walked all of the conjoined rooms, I was stunned into humble submission as I realized the consistency of the artistic temperament. Last night I was reading through an English Literature textbook before bed (wanting to get into Dickens and got sidetracked) and I started reading Victorian writer and art critic John Ruskin's Modern Painters, in which he says that there is no difference between the painter who uses his series of skillful brushstrokes and the poet who uses language, for they are both simply the tools used to express their visions.
I might add to this, visions that will make them immortal.
And so there was that visit, but then there were also visits to small theatres where I saw stand-up comedy performed three feet in front of me, legendary music clubs where friends embraced me and asked me where I'd been all this time, private movie screenings and restaurants and bars and all those things that make up my roots. The streets materialized around me again as I instinctually just knew where to go, like a great city map that had begun rendering itself block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood. Never before in my life can I recall ever having had such a sense of belonging, part of a community of creatives that take from this city that which is all that it really has to offer, first and foremost a never-ending spring of inspiration embedded in every square mile.
But back to the Rounds, and the Eight and Ninth have gone out within a month of each other, the latter of which actually produced a request for a partial. Self-publishing has not so much gone by the wayside again, but has dropped down the ladder a few rungs. At some point I'll begin submitting to publishers in addition to agents on a monthly basis, and I'll continue writing new things, and with that nothing has changed much at all.
But can I get back to how wonderful it is to walk these streets again, how nourishing to the soul it is to have conversations that require no background or context and that go on for hours and hours until it's time to go home and begin these days again, and how a man can indeed go home?