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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Dalai Lama

I am waiting for a super famous literary agent to read my book again.
The last time I was engaged in this particular torment, I panicked and wrote to him that it needed more work, I needed some more time, etc. This after spending four hours with my old high school English teacher critiquing my book over about eight cups of coffee.
"You look like a jackass here." he said."Cut this line, and this one."
Or
"This makes you look like you are full of self pity. Delete it."

This is, by the way, the loveliest present that someone can give me-critique. No one has the nerve to do it, and I need it to make the story better. I've been writing this thing for almost three years-I can't even see it anymore. When my friend Cece read it i told her-
"You wouldn't let me leave the house with camel toe, would you? This is the literary equivalent to that. Don't let me make an asshole out of myself just to be polite."
Now she can't get the phrase "literary camel toe" out of her head. I catch her mumbling it sometimes when she think I can't hear her.

After my English teacher's critique I pulled out of the parking lot and frantically drove home, speeding, panic rising with every mile.

Oh my God, I thought, filled with horror. What have I done?

The minute I walked in the door I sat down and emailed the agent, hoping he hadn't already started, to say Stop! I need more time!
He wrote back, he'd already started it, but he had some really insightful advice for making it better.
I've spent the last three weeks making all the changes I could see that it needed. Then I spent four days re-reading it to see if I could find any more.
Done, I thought.
Then I hit send.
For about a day I felt a sense of peace. I worked on other writing projects, sewed dresses, finished some fantastically late custom orders for very patient people.
Then, while Ruby was taking her nap, I decided to google the agent.

Why?

I should not have done that.

I knew that he was Augusten Burrough's agent, that's why I contacted him in the first place. But beyond that, I knew nothing.

"Even if he rejects the book," I thought."He is one person removed from Augusten Burroughs. His eyes have looked into Augusten Burroughs' eyes during particulary intense editing sessions-it is almost like both of them are reading it right now."

For me, that is like having what a slumber party with Hanna Montana would be like for your average 37 year old male, or meeting the judges on American Idol. Famous people don't interest me-unless they are artists or writers. Then I indulge in freak outs.

"Have you googled this guy?" someone asked me.
"No," I shrugged." Not beyond 'Augusten Burroughs agent"
"You should," they said.

So I did.

Come to find out, he is also Stephen King's agent.
Wait it gets better-
he also represents the Dalai Lama.

Peaceful detachment-exit stage left.

"Oh my God." I called my friend Donna."What have I done?"

"Does he also represent Jesus Christ?" she asked."Great credentials. That Bible was an international bestseller, huh?"

"Donna- The Dalai. Fucking. Lama.I should have worked on the book at least five more years before I sent it to this guy."

"AWW, bullshit," she said. Donna is, by the way, my most famous friend-her films have won awards at Cannes, but she never talks about it. Ever. We were close for two years before I heard some of her crazy stories."He's just a guy. If he doesn't like it-so what? I do, and I'm a genius."



I could see the Dalai Lama somewhere in India, hitting refresh on his hotmail every ten minutes, as he waits for my guy to read HIS book.

"No, No, I can't meditate for the happiness of the world," He would say, waving off his followers."Don't you understand, I am waiting for my agent to email me about my book!"

This man, or his agency-I can't quite get a bead on it, represents the Dalai Lama. Had I known that, I probably wouldn't have bothered contacting him in the first place. I may sometimes aspire to be a badass, but I'm not insane.

"I have a splitting headache." says the Dalai Lama."I can't take the suspense anymore.Will he like it? Will he hate it? Is that whole "Tibet" thing overdone, at the end? Bring me the Advil. No, No, we have some- I put it in that cupboard in my last lifetime."

Why did I Google him? I was doing just fine,embroidering next to the fire, watching Coraline, drinking bloody marys. Not really even waiting at all-just plain living.

"He may take six weeks to read it," I told myself. "Remember that other lady? She took three months. Detach."

I even Googled myself and looked up an excruciatingly embarrassing youtube video that Camel cigarettes filmed about me once. That's right-Camel cigarettes came to my house and did a mini documentary about me.I don't know why-it's not like i even smoke Camels. I don't smoke, or mention smoking or camels, in the video at all. The whole thing was perplexing.

Because I loathe seeing myself on video I'd never actually watched it. It made me cringe, I always had to stop after a few seconds.
This time, I watched it, sat there in horror as a tiny me pranced around, weird and awkward and just foreign looking( do I really sound that way? Is that what my face looks like when I talk/ Jesus.)

I did this to remind myself that maybe-if he says no-if they all say no and I just decide at some point not to publish it-that could be great too because I would never have to do a video interview again.
Maybe you think I am putting you on about this, exaggerating how distasteful it is into an affectation,
"Oh, I hate all this attention! Oh my!"
No, I am serious. It's horrifying. You have to do it to be any kind of artist, but watching the youtube video made me realize that there would be a true silver lining to never having to talk to anyone else in person-about me, myself, what i do, etc.


It is so different to talk about yourself than to write about your life-
talking about yourself can make you feel like an asshole.

I wonder if the Dalai lama has problems with this?

"I'm going to reincarnate as a gas station attendant next time," he is thinking,"I just need a break. Jesus, did you see me on youtube with Obama? How embarrassing."

Then he checks his email again.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, I just found your blog through etsy and I love it!!!!!! I think you are an amazing writer, and when your book get published I want to read it. I also love your poppy dress on etsy and if I had somewhere to go I would wear that dress. Also, you will probably think this is weird but I feel like we have been long time friends eventhough we haven't. Keep writting, I love it!

    Always,

    Karoline

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  2. I've met the Dalai Lama, and believe me, you are no Dalai Lama. (paraphrasing George HW Bush to Clinton)

    Send an email to the DL and ask him to meditate on your success as a writer. Tell him you will dedicate the book to "A Free Tibet".

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