For the past year I worked on the manuscript diligently with my development editor to make sure the characters and plot made sense. When I got this request for the first fifty I sent them to a reputable editor who has experience with historical fiction so she could go through and polish them up.
After another round of editing I sent the first fifty pages off to New York City. When I heard back yesterday from the agent's assistant, my weekend was shot to hell.
"....after considering them, we have decided that your project is not something we can successfully represent at this time. At 84, Mr. ____ is cutting back on clients rather than taking on new ones and has more than enough on his plate. But I wish you good luck finding representation and a publisher for this."
There are probably a myriad of reasons Mr. ___ is cutting back on clients like me, including the fact that at his age he is looking for brilliance, not cultivating it. I would be the first to admit I am not a brilliant writer.
Malcolm Gladwell made an observation in his book Outliers (2011) that the Beatles spent 10,000 hours perfecting their music in German clubs before reaching a large following in Britain and elsewhere.
Collectively, I've put in maybe 5,000 on writing this trilogy so I have a ways to go yet. Maybe by the third book in the trilogy I'll have hit my stride; kind of like one of my characters, William did by the time he built his third Great Camp - Sagamore in the Adirondacks.
After receiving this depressing news I sulked all day, left work and downed three quarters of a bottle of Cabernet. Then I went to bed thinking about how I could have made the first fifty pages better.
By the time I woke up this morning my head had cleared a bit and I wrote down some thoughts about the opening chapter and decided to jump right to the scene when William and Ella first learn their father has died. So Dr. Durant will not show up in the second story except in memory. Of course where were Dr. Durant's children when they learned the titan had met his maker? The Adirondack forests.
So for inspiration I went to the woods where the golden hues of the beech trees, still clinging to their leaves, were reflected off the morning sun. And then, on the trail, I came upon this tree art pictured below and thought of the quote from Henry James:
“We work in the dark, We do what we can, We give what we have, Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task, The rest is the madness of art.”