Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Call

This business of getting 'the call' ... it is rather legendary in the genre.

At least for me, the significance was ...

I was talking to her
and she asked me what I was working on.
This may have been so I would stop doing the heavy breathing bit in her ear.
So I said I had another novel in progress.
"What's it about?" says she.

I am standing there with my brains in rigor from having received 'the call' and I cannot tell her what JESSAMYN is about even though I have written tens of thousands of words of it already and have a complicated outline in a .doc file labeled 'Complicated Outline.doc'.
"Ummmm ..." says I.
and then,
"It's set in 1810," says I,
that being the only factoid I can dredge out of the won ton soup that used to be my cerebral cortex.

She offers a supportive silence and I have to say something or she will begin to think I am really really stupid and she will not want to represent a gibbering idiot. She may already be having doubts.

"I'm using two secondary characters from ANNEKA in it," says I, grabbing another factoid as it swims by.

"Which two?"

Oh, good. Another question I can answer. "Doyle and Adrian."

"Adrian! That's wonderful! I fell a little in love with Adrian."

And all of a sudden it's all right. Because I'm a little in love with Adrian myself and I worried I'd carved out too big a role for a secondary character in the ms and it might have deformed the plot but she doesn't think so and she's a professional and should know that sort of thing.

This is the only other person on earth who's read the whole manuscript besides me and she really likes Adrian. She likes him.

It's going to be ok.


  1. Okay, so where were you when you got The Call? What were you doing? Thinking about? Wearing? {g}


  2. Hi Vicki -

    I was ... most appropriately ... working on JESSAMYN (what a good girl am I) when my 'mail-screening' telephone answering machine went on.

    "Hello. This is Pam Hopkins calling for Jo Bourne ..."

    The name Hopkins did not in the least penetrate my early morning fog.
    I thought I was about to be asked to contribute to the local police fund, or vote for a Democratic governor ... those being the folks who have called me with some persistence.

    Acquit me of all but stupidity. Yes. I had been hoping for a call someday ... in a couple of months maybe.

    I'd only sent the ms out a dozen days before. It was too soon to expect a response.

    I was wearing loose black trousers and a tee shirt. The tee shirt was from and showed naked women dancing under the moon. The pants were from Deva which is a cooperative that operates out of, I think, North Dakota. They used to be in Hagerstown MD -- not so far from where I live -- but they got hasselled by The Man and headed for the north woods.

    My comfy writing clothes. Old familiar clothes from the same companies I've bought from for years.
    Wasn't it Thoreau who said to beware of any enterprize that called for new clothes?

    So I says "Hi" ... following the small town rule of being polite when you pick up the phone since you may be talking to the mother of your daughter's friend or the sister of somebody you go to Meeting with.

    Once the word 'literary' penetrated my pre-secondcupofcoffee haze, I knew what Pam Hopkins was on the line.

    Still took a minute to figger out she was offering me represention. "Have you signed with anyone else?" says she.

    "Ah ... no," says I with the calmness of the poleaxed.

    "Oh good," says she.

    It's wonderful to get an agent. A great relief to hand the complexities of selling over to an exper and take the next step to getting this and future books in print.

    But what happened on the most important level -- I was talking to somebody who made the work real,
    because she'd lived the story.

    Adrian stretched his compact tumbler's body and gave his cocky grin, coming alive.
    because she believed in him.