At an old shabby restaurant in ‘the city’ on a rainy Saturday morning.
It’s pouring buckets as fifty other men and women, hoping to be the “chosen one,” enter the front door with shaky hearts and bodies.
We all have one thing in common.
We’re led past the bar (where, at 10 a.m., patrons are starting on their first round) and on to a many-windowed wood-paneled room that smells musty and looks way past its due date. I count the buckets catching drips from the ceiling: seven.
Then I count the seven agents who sit at separate tables draped with white tablecloths. After each agent is introduced with name, agency title, and the type of book the agency is looking for, we writers split up, standing in line at the table of the agent we think most likely to want our work.
Speed Dating for Authors.
I wonder if I should offer a bucket to some of my compatriots: sweat is pouring from their foreheads as they finger their index cards, practicing what they’ll say to the “one-who-will-love-their-book.”
What would Charles Dickens say in three minutes? “I’m writing about the best of the times and the worst of times…”
How about Kate Atkinson, Costa Novel Award winner for A God in Ruins: “My book follows a WWII pilot from his 20s to his 80s, but not successively in chapters, so in one chapter he’s a 40-year-old unsuccessful father, and in the next chapter he’s 21, flying above Dresden and releasing bombs.”
They’d both be shut down by minute 2.
J.K. Rowling, in a sweet voice, explains “My main character, a rather unattractive little boy, lives with Muggles until he takes a train that disappears on the tracks and transports him to a, shall we say, very private school called Hogwarts where the paintings talk to the students and a ghost scares the sh – -, oh excuse me, really scares some of the younger ones.”
I’d love to hear Shakespeare explain his main character Hamlet in three minutes: “This young man wonders if he should kill himself; yes, his life is that awful, so Hamlet deliberates out loud: ‘…. To be or not to be.‘ ”
I begin to step out of the line when I think of A Man Called Ove, which I recently read. Would author Fredrik Backman stand here? Would he explain nervously, “My book is about a grumpy old man who can’t get over the death of his wife, so he walks around policing the neighborhood while contemplating how to commit suicide”? Would an agent choose to publish this book, which is so much more than its three-minute summary?
I walk out of the restaurant, out of the rain toward the sun, and return home to my writing, my characters, and my books, which deserve so much more than three minutes.
Thanks to Google Images.