Monday, December 02, 2013

I Have a Rendezvous with My Literary Agent


Today I had lunch with my literary agent. On arrival she had misery painted all over her face. The maitre d' was kind enough to provide a face flannel to wash it off. Though a slender spirited creature my agent tends to be remote and vague. She has a tendency to walk on all fours when a conversation becomes exciting. For her, I play the fool. To her, I am a fool. C'est la vie.

'Well, what can I say?' She looked perplexed and started tossing shrewd and short comments in the air and catching them in her mouth. 'Your short novel has no plot, hurried syntax, and the title, It's Hard to Debate Anything at Length While You're Unconscious, is unengaging, let alone disconcerting'. I asked if she believed I would ever have a book published? She thought seriously and replied, 'Published is a big word.' She smiled. 'The only avenue left is to translate some of your work into English, even though you believe it already is.'

Her words overwhelmed me. I'm aware I write badly. In fact, in my first novella, Even Vegetables get Homesick, I used the adverb 'badly' eighty-six times in one chapter. This naturally raises questions which frankly are unanswerable.

'Maybe I'm wrong,' she said slowly and hesitantly, 'but I believe you should go on. Even though your stories are, shall we say, without meaning and littered by characters with the souls of sick sea creatures. Continue writing but try to enrich your vocabulary. And if I may say so, long inner dialogues, repetition, lack of a theme, will not attract readers' to your work.'

I thanked my agent for her honesty, intelligence and company, though I felt trapped and wished to escape. I remained smiling as she left. Then my mind went offline.

*
Good news at last! My new play A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese is to be staged off-off-off-off- Broadway. It will be staged in a baguette basket on the back of a scooter in Versailles, France. I must find bread that has charisma, that can engage with its audience, remember its lines, and can collaborate with butter without reverting to ominous panic. Slowly, I begin to feel joy again. The quality of the bread will make or break the project. My search begins ...

*
Reflections: Tonight my wife is doing her best to upset me. She is playing tom-tom drums with her prosthetic hip replacement implant, and yodeling Prairie Lullaby while chewing tobacco: juice running down her face.

I stop writing, grab an apple, and sit on the floor in a corner of the room. I watch my wife from this short distance. Holding the apple, I reflect a day will come when I can stand such discomfort no longer. What should I say? Suddenly my face becomes pale, lifeless. My eyes too tired to shed tears. After thinking about this for a moment, I lean my head against the wall in an effort to embrace sleep.