I attended the Chuckanut Writers Conference this weekend and pitched my book, The Parting Glass, to 3 different agents. All three expressed interest. Two requested a couple of sample chapters via email and one wanted a completed manuscript. So, now I have the challenge of actually finishing my book. I’ve been so focused on perfecting every last sentence I write, that progress has been slow (although I am about 25,000 words in). Some valuable advice I got was to set a minimum writing goal. Each day, for example, maybe I write 15 minutes at an absolute bare minimum or maybe 2 pages. I can perfect it later.
I know many hours of writing and self-promotion are in my future, but that’s okay. It will all be worth it when I see my book on the shelves of Village Books. It will be worth it when I can actually do what I love for a living. I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my entire life. And to think (as my friend Sherry pointed out), I almost took a political science class last fall instead of Laura Kalpakian’s Memory into Memoir class. Sometimes one decision can change the course of your entire life.
The skies are still overcast here in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m not entirely sure what the sun looks like anymore, but I’m feeling optimistic anyway. I have plenty of reason to be hopeful this week. The Chuckanut Writers Conference begins on Friday morning and runs through Saturday, and I’ll have the opportunity to pitch my book to 3 different agents. I’ve decided (at least for now) upon the title, “The Parting Glass”, and about 100 pages are complete. Because I am writing memoir, I only need 50 completed pages to move forward (vs fiction, in which agents will ask for a completed manuscript).
So, the rest of my week will be spent polishing up the first 50 pages and continuing to expand. I never dreamed how difficult it would be to actually write a book. Silly me, I thought I would just be able to sit down and crank out 250 pages and be done. My friend Richard wrote 400 pages of his book in just 2 months – but that’s not typical. I’m a slow worker, and that’s because I want my finished product to be perfect. Several themes I never anticipated have also emerged during the first 100 pages that are worth exploring a little further. Hopefully, at least one of the agents will appreciate what I’m trying to do and pick up my project. I’m only thinking happy thoughts!
Here’s my possible pitch idea (what I’ll tell the agents on Friday). Would any of you read my book based on this? Anything you’d be curious about? :
When a restless young traveler decides to try Irish whiskey in a local bar for the first time, the last thing she expected was to get a ticket…to Dublin. Some would later say the whiskey was just trying to get to its home when she pulled out her smart phone and booked the airline ticket. Not wanting to travel alone, she pursues international online dating to find a travel companion. What seems like a simple search turns into a series of romantic misadventures across the Emerald Isle full of memorable characters such as a considerate doctor, a mysterious cop, and an incendiary bartender. Set against the breath-taking backdrop of a ruin-dotted countryside and lively cities, the Narrator sets out to capture all the important moments with her camera, but it’s her unguarded heart that is captured instead. After a few months back home, she grows restless again from dreaming of distant hills that always look greener and books another ticket to reclaim her heart. Unfortunately, she returns only to discover that the man she loves isn’t exactly who she remembered him to be.
The Parting Glass is a toast to all of the wonderful people of Ireland. But, it’s also about idealizing a moment in time as remembered through the unreliable lens of vacation. It’s about learning which experiences are impermanent and which ones last forever.