January 3, 2019 § 53 Comments
By Christina Consolino
They say it takes a village to grow a child, and I’d argue that it takes a village to grow a manuscript too. That village is made up of a diverse cast of characters, all of whom play an integral role in seeing a book come to life. Those people should be acknowledged, but since I’ve never been one to dwell on the positive . . .
The literary agents: For rejecting my work over the years. I’d love to mention each of you by name, but I’m only here to disparage a select few. My most memorable rejection arrived from BB, who used the remarkable wording: “Not for nus.” (That’s right. A typo from a literary agent. I wouldn’t want my book handled by someone who couldn’t use spell check anyway, right?) Just know that you—nameless or not—have made me better than I was before. Better . . . stronger . . . faster.
The editors: For reading my manuscript from top to bottom and sending me feedback that made so little sense, it quickly became apparent that you’d either switched my manuscript with someone else’s, or you’d been reading my manuscript while watching Better Call Saul. I have neither a stripper pole nor a mosque in this narrative.
The informal teachers: For scoffing at my projects. “That premise will never fly,” one said. (He didn’t think sparkly vampires would, either.) Another piped in, “How can you write a manuscript and raise four kids at the same time?” (Ever heard of Danielle Steele?) And, “What training do you have to write a book?” (I’m pretty sure that some of the most well-respected authors don’t have degrees in creative writing.) Every time you uttered a phrase like that, I straightened my spine. And now? With the completion of this book, I’m sending you the biggest fucking bird I can muster.
The numerous agencies and organizations I contacted: For not returning my calls when I asked for help with research. The doctor and dentist and hygienist who blew me and my laptop off after having offered to speak with me? I’ve killed you off and told all my friends about you. The therapist who never followed-up with me? Dead too. You had one job to do. One job.
The alpha readers: For dropping the ball, even though you said, “Yes, I’ll read the manuscript.” You neither read it nor provided any feedback as to why you didn’t (or couldn’t) read it. You’ve opened my eyes to the ways of the world and taught me to choose wisely when it comes to readers. The true readers will indeed, bring life, and the false? They will take it from you.
The so-called literary citizens: For never sharing my work, ever (even though I share yours). Despite your congratulatory comments, your “Thanks for being a fabulous literary citizen!” emails, your tiny fucking heart and thumbs up emojis when I post something. It’s been a real pleasure knowing that you have not and will not share my work. Your lack of response has taught me what the real world is all about: me. (Well, you, really.) It’s clear that the “Me generation” is alive and well, even in the literary world.
The colleagues: For never taking me seriously. “That’s a cute hobby you have there,” she said. And this zinger from an old boss: “What the fuck do you think you’re doing trying to write a book?” he said. “You’re a fucking science teacher!” (I know what you’re thinking: what boss would use an F-bomb at work? That one. But he also got fired for “fraternizing” with his boss. Wink, wink.)
The librarian: For your lack of encouragement or support and for stating that I’d never find a home for my manuscript in this world, then tearing it from my hands and tossing it into the trash. Only later did a friend find it in the employee restroom, annotated from cover to cover, although the acknowledgments had been used as some makeshift toilet paper. Little did that librarian know that the scene would make it into the final draft of my current work-in-progress.
The veterinarian: For healing my old, cantankerous cat, the one who always pushed the delete button on my keyboard and scratched at the draft, ate the draft, and then vomited the draft. Without you, dear doctor, I’d be cat-less, but I’d have more intact manuscripts in hand. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.)
My dog: For taking the manuscript between her jaws, running out the door, and burying it behind the compost pile. Her valiant actions prompted me to begin anew, thus finding my true, authentic voice, again leading me to be better . . . stronger . . . faster.
My children: For not being able to stay awake—not one of them!—while I read the draft aloud. (If you don’t actually hear the words, my dear progeny, they cannot count toward any reading minutes.)
And last but not least, my husband, the true love of my life: For not reading my work because women-centered narratives are “not his thing,” despite finding him glued to movies on the Lifetime channel. Asshole.
Christina Consolino is the co-author of Historic Photos of University of Michigan and has had work featured in HuffPost, Short Fiction Break, Flights: The Literary Journal of Sinclair Community College, Tribe Magazine, and Literary Mama, where she serves as Senior and Profiles Editor. She also serves on the board of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop at University of Dayton and as a writing instructor at a local writing center. Along with writing and editing, Christina currently teaches Anatomy and Physiology at Sinclair Community College.