Friday, October 8, 2010

The Job

There is something about the energy of fifteen persons, gathered about a table, wanting some sense of where to begin, as though there were indeed a perfect way to begin, as though there were some transformative ritual.  The something becomes palpable; they are here to get something, some validation for the strange behavior they have been demonstrating over some period of time which, taken in aggregate, has sent them the message that they want to write.


You see yourself in every one of them because they are all of them at differing stages of advancement.  As a rule of thumb, the more challenging their questions to you, the more uncertain and nervous they are; you have been in all their places and a few they have not yet demonstrated.  Your goal is to show them more places to be.

This is the first time you've worked with Toni.  Your commentary and direction flows nicely according to the syllabus you have prepared and the order of subject you have mutually decided upon.  When it is your turn to introduce your background, you try with diplomacy to suggest that your way into where you now find yourself is not necessarily a good or likely way for them; they must find their own path which will let them out at the proper place and time as themselves rather than you.  The similarities are present but so are the differences.  Each is important; they are not as cray as they may have thought (they may however be crazier than they could possibly have imagined.  We'll have to see.)  There are things you wish they would be able to get over this very weekend, allowing you the sense that you had imparted some strong emotional guidance.  You have sniffed out three or four who might be able to do just that.

You have given presentations with literary agents before, but never at so intimate a level and never with a literary agent who is at the moment representing products of yours.  Here you are, doing some of the things you do well, perhaps even best.  Today is the exact anniversary of you being free of cancer for 82 months.  It is the day someone close to you has been diagnosed with a riot of cancer with road trips to the lungs, kidneys, and liver.  One of the implications of this knowledge is that you will undoubtedly do things and behave in ways you had not imagined or considered.  Loss and awareness each bring information and behavior in their wake; when they team up, there is no guessing the responses.  You will have to wait and see.  Now, in addition to having the behavior and responses of others both real and the constructions you make of them as characters, you have the opportunity to observe your own behavior and response.

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