Playing the Referral Game + Junot Diaz Comparisons

Yesterday, TC Boyle admitted to me in his office that he made all of us in workshop read Junot Diaz (+ 3 other authors from Doubletakes), in part because he wanted the class to see some of the stylistic similarities between Brief Wondrous Life + yours truly.

--You know, I called that, I said. I actually told someone that I wondered whether you had us read Junot Diaz because it was similar in some ways to my own writing.
--No, it's true, he said.
--But I didn't wanna be egocentric, so I dismissed it as stylistic coincidence.
--No, you were right.

Fuck, how flattering is that shit?


Last year back when were just getting acquainted in our roles as writer-mentor, I asked TC Boyle one day in his office--because I'm ambitious like that--if he would give me a referral to four agents I was particularly in love with (Nicole Aragi, who I send a query letter to pretty much every year, Mary Evans + Eric Simonoff, both of whom have never responded to me, + Georges Borchardt, Tom's own agent). His response was fair: Let's work together in workshop in the fall + then I'll be happy to. Well, I never forget a promise, especially one involving my own writing career. So after we talked about the last two chapters I'd recently workshopped from The Ninjas of My Greater Self (my second novel), I asked him again + he was good to his word. It's an easier sell now I think because he has a much better idea of my aesthetic. And also, because he was especially impressed with the first chapter I submitted to workshop, "Girls: A Four-Movement Symphony by the Beastie Boys," the good thing is that he won't have to lie about my skillz. I could be wrong, but I don't think Tom goes out on a limb for his students unless:

1. He thinks they're talented
2. They initiate it themselves

So, I think it's a good sign he was still willing to give me a referral, but it's just a small step, one that promises nothing but opens up a new, dreamy--and very unlikely--possibility. But now, the real work begins. Getting a referral doesn't necessarily mean shit in this industry unless:

1. The agent has room in her/his client list, and most importantly:
2. They love the shit out of your novel. And just as importantly:
3. They know they can sell it

And of course, even in the best case scenario that all 4 agents ask to take a look at BLANK or Love + Porn--which won't happen--it's still very possible that I'm exactly where I was before I asked him.

And yet, yet, what other choice do I have? I have to risk the possibility of rejection in order to get my writing out there + create a readership. I have to do it for me + I have to do it for my art. I don't know another way except to keep pushing. Eventually, something breaks down, right? Eventually, someone pushes through. Why not me? Why not me? I ask you.

Three Novel Queries for Amnesia of Junebugs

In the past two days, I've become so frustrated that this one awesome literary agent--whose name I'll keep to myself, but whose top client is one of the rising stars in the Paris Review--hasn't responded to me in 6 months after asking for three sample chapters (I've sent her 3-4 emails and I still have received a response yet). Anyway, it's been pissing me off so much that I decided to sublimate my frustration into fresh new hope, so I just sent novel queries to the following high-powered agents:

1. Molly Friedrich (who represents 4 Pulitzer-Prize winners). That should intimidate me, but actually it inspires me.

2. Mary Evans (who represents Michael Chabon). I actually think this is something like the third query letter I've sent her in the past 2 years, but I could be wrong. What can I say? I'm persistent, because you have to be in this industry.

3. Doris S. Michaels (whose literary fiction clients are represented in every major publishing house in America)

So, what do I think my odds are? Oh fuck, slim to none. But I knew that going into this profession, and I'm not going to let that stop me from getting published. I'm a talented fiction writer. I'm just waiting for an agent to figure that out, and I know someday one will.