I love this picture. In many ways it reminds me of my life in the form of a dike with a huge, craggy hole in the middle that I'm constantly stuffing with just-completed and half-completed and must-get-done activities so the dike won't burst if left on its own, creating utter chaos.
Here's my point: I'm having the worst time juggling and prioritizing and making everyone happy these days, especially with my husband away and traveling so much.
That said, last week I received a manuscript in my mailbox, which isn't unusual on its own. I often get unsolicited manuscripts, as other authors do. However, this one belonged to someone I've met a few times, but only vaguely know.
Attached was a card and a gift certificate for dinner. The note said, "This may be presumptive but would you mind reading my novel and giving some feedback? Any at all would be great. No hurry, no pressure. ie., if it were to take you a month, I'd understand. P.S. Either way, enjoy the dinner."
I flipped through the 512 page manuscript and took a long, slow breath. He's being naive, I thought. Naive and sadly misinformed about how little disposable time I have.
Careful not to hurt his feelings, I took the time to respond with a letter. In it, I politely explained that I really would like to help, but I don't have time to read his novel, not this month or next or even into the new year. I explained that I'm a month behind on my own novel. Then I gave him some general advice and a handful of pointers (2 paqes worth), suggested some books that might help him move his novel to a higher level, and attached a sample query letter for when it came time to look for an agent. I also returned the gift certificate.
Yesterday I ran into this guy at the dry cleaners. He was with his wife and after I smiled and said hello, he hurled this comment over his shoulder as they exited: "That's the author I told you about. The one who's too good to help anyone else out now that she's published!"
Words fail me, you know? They honestly do.