The other day, I got to thinking about fate. Could it be that fate has brought me to this point?
In a way, it goes back to my somewhat random and hasty decision to get my MFA from the University of New Orleans. During those years, I learned to write better, but, more importantly, I met Jennifer Stewart who was working as the coordinator of the UNO writing programs abroad, in which I participated.
Jeni, who now directs the little-literary-conglomerate, Burlesque Press, happens to knows everything there is to know about the writing world, and recently she told me about the WoMentoring Project, a program that matches up women writers with mentors.
I looked at the WoMentoring website and was excited to see Scottish novelist Lisa O’Donnell on the list of mentors. I had read Lisa’s debut novel, The Death of Bees, the previous year and loved it. In fact, I’d written a glowing review of it for Burlesque Press’s blog. (Come to think of it, Jeni had recommended the book to me as something I’d enjoy…)
So I applied for the WoMentoring Project, and Lisa became my mentor. She read one of my manuscripts and told me it was ready to be sent out to agents.
“Well, the thing about that is…” I told her I had already queried thirty agents with a slightly different version of the novel, and they had all turned me down.
“What about agents in the U.K.?” she suggested.
It was an intriguing idea….
A few weeks later, Lisa decided to send the manuscript to her agent: Alex Christofi of Conville & Walsh. And he liked it! We spoke on the phone on Monday, and he said he’d like to represent me. I said I’d like that as well.
What a great birthday present! I turn 33 tomorrow, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
But I can hardly believe it, to be honest. Getting an agent for my writing is something I’ve been wanting for so long, and now that it’s happening, I’m weirdly nervous. I don’t want to do anything to mess it up.
And I can’t help but think, if I had never met Jeni… If I had never gotten Lisa as a mentor… If my friend Nikki hadn’t encouraged me to quit my full-time teaching job in DC and focus on writing…
In fact, it was exactly two years ago that I drove up to Cape Cod to stay rent-free at Nikki’s house for six months, and that was when and where I wrote the first draft of the manuscript that is now going to become a book.
It makes me wonder: was this a long cause-and-effect chain of fate that led me to this very moment?
I’d like to think so because that’s a romantic notion, but the truth is that this moment was probably going to come somehow or another. I’ve been working at this writing thing for a while now, and in the end, hard work is probably more important than fate. There were many possible paths I could have taken to writing a book and finding an agent. Some might have been shorter, or longer, or easier, or more difficult, but they all would have led me here: to becoming an agented author.
That being said, I’m quite happy with the path I’ve been on, and with all the people who have been helping me out along the way.