Last summer, I wrote a proposal for a secondhand shopping bible. My agent loved it. His colleagues loved it. Ten or so editors at bigwig publishing houses loved it too.
I was funny! I was talented! I managed to make a relatively unfamiliar subject matter entertaining!
An overwhelmingly positive response meant the odds of my book selling were reasonably good, right?
Wrong. So effing wrong. After pitching the proposal at their respective publishing house meetings, my cheerleaders mutated into cynics. They liked it, but… well… a first time author writing on unfamiliar subject matter was a tough sell. It wasn’t a judgement on my writing – even in their rejection letters, they lauded my voice and my potential. I just turned out to be a risk that a destabilized industry wasn’t willing to take.
I wasn’t just crushed – I was royally fucked. In arrogantly assuming that a book’s fate hinged on quality writing and good content, I’d failed to consider my next move. My funds were running out; my parents’ patience was understandably wearing thin; the dream of a career as resale’s biggest foghorn was fading; reality was rearing its fugly fucking head. I’d turned down editorial positions fashion sites on the grounds that it’d kill my street cred, and for what? To be just another starving non-artist?
I was sick of being told I had great ideas, only to later be told it wasn’t the right time to bring them to fruition. Resale was a growing multi-billion dollar industry; people were shopping it, but that didn’t necessarily mean they’d buy a book about it. From a mass media standpoint, I’d arrived at the party too early.
I still believed in what I was doing, but you can’t fucking feed yourself on faith.
I tend to split hairs on the whole fate/destiny thing. Part of me thinks it’s a matter of choice and willpower; part of me thinks it’s ultimately out of my hands. I don’t know if I believe in God or whatevs. I do know that I believe there’s something out there – something greater than ourselves, something beyond our conception or comprehension. Something that observes how badly we want it and how far we’ll go to get it; something that watches us try and fail and try and fail again, and keep going anyway. Something that witnesses us as we trudge on, at the expense of our pride and against our better judgment. Something that waits in the wings until we’ve exhausted every option and finally hit the lowest of lows.
Last October, I sat on my floor in my apartment with my head in my hands. The experience of pitching a book had castrated me: I’d lost my balls, and the will to keep going along with them. If I was going to continue on my current path, I needed some concrete proof that it wasn’t all for naught.
I then proceeded to do something nucking futs. Something I’ve never done before. Something that at any other time, would have seemed like a crock of voo-doo bullshit.
I asked for a sign.
Ten seconds later, my phone rang. Ten minutes later, I had an offer to co-own a secondhand store.
I got a crash course in running a resale business in the months that followed. I eventually realized my book hadn’t sold for good reason. You can’t claim expertise over anything until you know every facet of the subject on which you’re writing. In my case, that meant I couldn’t write a book on resale until I’d been on both sides of the counter. I’m finally ready to write the goddamn thing.
After my proposal was deemed dead in the water, I was told to view the praise that didn’t pan out as an opportunity. These editors wanted to see more of my work, after all – humorous essays, a funny fashion and style book, a cheeky memoir, perhaps. Maybe I had to get established first before I could write about what I knew best and loved most.
I mulled over the possibility of doing the dog and pony show; of churning out a cutesy coffee table book that’d net me an advance and a promotional budget to boot. It’s tempting. But it’s not me.
I don’t want my first book to be generic and marginally entertaining.
I want it to kick some ass.
Self-publishing takes serious balls. I’m grateful to have mine back.
If this blog consisted of little more than pretty pictures of me wearing cute little outfits a la most popular style bloggers as of late, I could probably keep it going while I write the book. Unfortunately, it’s heavy on content, and content takes time and energy, and I don’t have enough of either to post consistently and get this book done in the next few months.
And so I must bid you farewell and go dark for the time being. I’ll check in via twitter and post periodic updates on how it’s all going. I’ll be thinking of you every time I sit down to write.
Good shopping karma and a big fat MWAH to you all.
VIVA LA THRIFT.