Sometimes it’s good that agents don’t respond immediately to queries from writers.
Last night, sleepless in Portland, visualizing the empty wine bottles I’ll have to recycle in the morning, worrying about glasses that probably will break in the washer, regretting the hors d’oeuvres turning green because I forgot to put them in the fridge, my party obsession floated away in a cloud of fragmented conversations. The party was over. Even I had a good time. So move on, I whispered into my pillow, to your other obsession, the one you put aside in a frantic week of rolling out phyllo dough and filling empanitas.
Twelve queries sent, two rejections, ten to go. Takes time, I told myself. These people get a thousand queries a month. Then I imagined my email page telling me I had a thousand new messages. Not a comforting thought. Uneasy, my imaginings stumble on to Ellie, the old lady my queries had mentioned.
Just how old is she? 67, I think, just past the 60 is the new 50 stage and into a little arthritis and a bum hip.
Wait a minute. Her son is 28, as is our villain. Which means Ellie was almost forty when he was born.
Which is okay, but didn’t I have her describe escaping as a teenager from grandmother’s house by getting pregnant? Marrying a no-good who left with a toddler after a year or two? She lived with her grandmother until she’s almost forty? My grandmother could have lived with me when I was forty. Despite my careful outline of Ellie’s and my other characters’ lives, I’d misplaced maybe thirty years. Unless I change her backstory, she should be 46, definitely not a crotchety old woman.
Tomorrow I will go back to Ellie, figure out how she got a son at age 39, having left her grandmother’s home almost twenty years before. I know HOW, of course. What I’m not sure yet is WHY.
This is why I love both writing and jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle/story seems to be coming together, sort of, but there are always the pieces that have fallen to the floor, the ones the player doesn’t see until she leans back and looks around.
So today, I’m okay with not getting a request for one hundred pages. By the end of the week, I’ll be checking my email obsessively, as usual, and Ellie will be glitchless.