TL;DR: Donna receives manuscript rejection and following an Oh Crap! moment provides clarification on what the hell we're doing with this whole road trip thing.
Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 8:54PM
"Dear Agent [Please take this work of art hewn from my dark flawed soul and consider selling it for mass consumption. (WTF am I doing?!)] ... I believe you'll find that the love story of Vole and Bay Gibbons is one that you'll carry with you for the rest of your life because it's as achingly beautiful as it is magical. As Nicholas Sparks once said about Noah and Allie, "[i]n this day and age, the unconditional love they felt for one another makes for a wonderful story, one that is all too rare and much too beautiful to let die without being told.” … "
Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 4:14 PM
4 months later
"Dear Donna, Thank you for your patience! This looks interesting. I would love to read the full MS. Please send your word.doc or docx attached manuscript to email@example.com. Be sure to cut and paste your query and synopsis into the email. The email subject line should read: REQUESTED- TITLE- GENRE/CATEGORY. I look forward to reviewing your story." [Please excuse me while I scrape bits of my shocked, now decimated jaw from the floor, and scramble to edit the crap out of my manuscript this weekend so that I can send it to you ASAP.]
Monday, December 14, 2015 at 10:27 PM
4 days later.
Manuscript sent. Autoresponder received.
"Thank you for your submission. Please note that at the moment I am giving a three month time frame (three more months?! ) to read and respond to your full submission, from the date that you send it to me. I greatly appreciate your patience. If you receive an offer of representation or publication, kindly let me know as soon as possible, to either give me a chance to read your project or to withdraw your submission. I'm looking forward to reading what you've sent me. Thank you! Kind regards, Agent."
Four months after sending Agent my manuscript and eight months after I sent my original pitch (query), I emailed a polite nudge. A few days later, Agent emailed me back to let me know that she’s backlogged, but will get back to me by the end of April. [Phewf!]
Not phewf. She got back to me yesterday and said No.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 5:27 PM
"Thank you in awaiting my response. I will pass on this project [My soul is not a project! Ok, it absolutely is a project, but having a stranger affirm that is crushing and makes me feel squirmy.]. Please remember that this is a highly subjective business, and what isn't right for one agent, can be perfect for another. I wish you luck with this ms!" [Now please excuse me while I mop up what remains of my obliterated heart, splattered across the wall.]
I haven’t told Michael yet (surprise, dear!) for two reasons (not counting the insidious, nagging worry that he'll be disappointed in me when he finds out). The first being that this story is special, and so having it rejected is a special kind of hurt. The idea behind it was inspired by my father; moulded by the divine love Michael grew up seeing shared between his own parents; and crafted for Michael as a birthday gift.
The second reason I haven’t told Michael she said No is because I needed some time to think about how her rejection made (makes) me feel. Perhaps surprisingly, while a part of me wants to wallow in self-destructive bliss, it's a small part. I find that I’m somewhat relieved. The story's future is wholly mine again which means I get to drive what happens next.
All in all, I’m thrilled to have come as far as I have and I'm excited by how much I've yet to learn. But I'm having a hard time processing... everything. My CPU desperately needs a reboot (it's caught in a looped program titled, "Did you do the right thing by quitting your stellar job to become a writer?", mutant spawn of resolved virus, "Did you do the right thing by quitting Toronto and archaeology to become a startup monkey?" and as with most treacherous paths that lead to a more puckering outcome, the moment you turn around to consider the way you took, the way back looks a lot less damaging than the looming cliff drop in front of you), and that's not happening in my dank writing cave from which I rarely emerge. So this road trip, quite honestly, couldn't have come at a better time. I need a dramatic context switch, a distraction of epic proportions, because my craziness is really starting to show.
*Deletes many crazy-showing paragraphs.*
A recent coping mechanism I've adopted is "Socializing," something I've been eyeballing warily and poking with a stick from a safe distance for quite some time. (We all have a perception of ourselves and like many writers, I imagine myself as a mostly silent, cave-dwelling creature; polyp-like, near-translucent fingers dancing across keys to summon magic; and eyeballs that are creeping ever-forward to form cones so that they may reach deeper and deeper into the words on my screen.) So last night I went with my mother and childhood best friend to a GeekGirl meetup held in the offices of NetSuite, my ex-employer.
An ex-colleague who I’ve known for most my life, an incredibly talented engineer who I greatly respect and admire (who, incidentally, has an ongoing love affair with Corvettes), was volunteering to help out.
He said to me, “You must be excited about your upcoming trip. I’ve read your blogs, but I still don’t know what you’re doing.”
“We’re going on a road trip!” I replied, trying to hide my embarrassment and disappointment that even though I'd written so many words, he still didn't know what I was trying to say (When, if ever, will I get good at this? I agonized for the bajillionth time).
Blink Blink. Silence.
“So that’s it?” he asked, waiting for an explanation that wasn't forthcoming.
“That’s it,” I confirmed, oversimplifying in my distress. “I don’t even know if we’re going to make it home!” Nervous laughter (mine).
When genuine surprise lit his face I realized that I still had work to do. I promptly got over myself, and then promptly got my butt out of there.
In sum: Six of us are driving three classic air-cooled Porsches (read: dangerously old) across North America along picturesque iconic roads, starting at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and ending in Kitchener, Waterloo. We expect to cover this entire distance in a woefully short period of time, driving three vehicles that have been sitting for years and all have inexplicable leaks amongst other worrying warts. Accommodations are largely unplanned. We're hoping that people will join us for portions of the journey. People will know where to meet us because we'll email updates and tweet as we go. We'll be blogging live and recording our trials and tribulations (to make an intensely satisfying movie afterwards) using a drone, GoPros, smartphones, and Taylor Jackson's glorious brain.
(^ glorious brain) We're getting lost in a once-in-a-life-time experience and we want to share that experience with as many people as possible so that they can get lost in it, too.
But that wasn't always the plan. When we first conceived of this road trip it was in the spirit of doing something crazy and epic before the responsibilities of life catch up with us, and ultimately, consume our lives.
(^ responsibility consuming our lives)
But when we started talking we realized there was more to it than that. A lot more.
Each of us going on this trip, to one extent or another, is driving and benefiting from this wildly evolving world of modern technology. Cars are a prime example. They're electric! They're driving themselves! We believe that in our life time people-driven vehicles will become a thing of the past (*stomach drops*). They'll become safety hazards, and they may eventually be banned from roads altogether.
Each of us going on this trip, to one extent or another, craves the sense of unpredictability, of becoming lost in the pleasure and fears of living, that navigating the unknown elicits. By taking this road trip we're stripping down to our pale (pasty), gleaming skins and diving headfirst into the deep dark churning waters of the unknown. Fingers of wind mercilessly teasing your hair, the sun's rays stretching down to plant a hot, shimmering kiss on your cheek, the sharp and sweet smells of spring blooming inside your nose. It all nourishes seeds of experience, of what it means to be full of joy and entirely alive, that lay dormant and waiting to flower within each of us. We want to remember how to become our bodies again. We want to live the experience before it goes away; just like so many wonders that humanity has created and then abandoned to time and layers of dust, lost even to memory, that have come before.
The two mounting pressures of Time and Innovation have transformed what began as a really cool, we-feel-fortunate-as-fuck idea, into something else entirely. This journey has become a pilgrimage of sorts. A poetic act in honour of the past so that we may turn to embrace the future wholeheartedly. Whether you’re a gear head or a die-hard pedestrian, or anything outside or in between, we want to create something that helps you cope with these pressures as well. The world is changing around all of us, whether we’re individually ready for it or not.
Our road trip is going to be awkward, messy, and full of tumultuous ups and downs. (Not to mention Bones' bucket seats, zero environment controls, and ridiculously rigid suspension, are all going to be outrageously uncomfortable.)
Honestly? I can't wait. I get to be co-pilot for the love of my life in the car of his dreams. I look at it as practise. As awkward and atrocious our trip may become, it's also exciting, exhilarating, enchanting. It's ugly-beautiful life.
To each of us this road trip means something different. To me, it's exactly what I need right now. [Now, please excuse me as I stuff what remains of my broken bits of body and soul into a bag that's smaller than my nephew, because we're leaving in three days! (Eek!)]