true love at last

In the last 48 hours, I found my true love.

Just kidding… deep, meaningful love only happens that fast on the Bachelor.

I continue to be astonished with the so-called matches that come my way. ZipperRipper aside, let’s talk for a minute about usernames. I know it’s potentially perilous that I actually incorporated my first name in mine. But “your name + s + waiting” is not a good user name. Nor is anything paired with awesome, handsome, sexy, foxy or the number 69 (even if it is your birth year). TriGuy appears in many different iterations, leading me to believe that the majority of single men in the DC metro area are triathletes. If that’s true, when do they have time to date?

The profile photos people choose to post amuse me too. This is the first impression you’re making on someone. I guess maybe the pink cowboy hat says everything I need to know about you, as does the pirate costume. The dude wearing camo looked intense, to say the least. I made that assessment before I noticed the subsequent picture of him emerged in open water wielding an automatic weapon like he was storming a beach. To scuba_addict I ask, “why are all your pictures taken underwater?” (That’s internal dialogue. I didn’t really strike up communication.) And it’s worth repeating: if all your pictures are obviously selfies, my conclusion is you don’t have friends. At least get a tourist on the Mall to snap your shot. Or someone from the office. Your sister, perhaps? A waiter?

Abundance of dad jeans aside, I’m not totally cynical. I’ve read some interesting profiles and even reached out to a few men who caught my attention. It might sound odd that this process makes me feel vulnerable given I write a blog where I’m open about some intense experiences, but I’m trying not to take rejection personally. Just as I’m making knee jerk reactions about people, so are they about me. “I mean really, what’s with the Dr Zhivago hat?” I’m sure more than one man has said under his breath. “A Boston Red Sox fan? Pass.”

I press ahead. At worst, I have new material to write about and at best, I make a friend or two.

a match made in cyberspace

A few years ago, I tried the online dating thing for a very brief period of time. And by brief, I mean a few hours after signing up for Match, I called customer service, crying hysterically, and asked to get out of my six-month contract. I stuck with e-harmony a little longer because the limited ability to browse through profiles (or rather, have my profile browsed through) provided an added layer of protection, but I went on exactly zero dates, so I eventually canceled that contract too.

I’ve never been tempted to venture back into the cyber dating fold, but over Valentine’s dinner and the many glasses of wine that accompanied, I got talked into giving Match another try. “Come on,” my friend coaxed. “I just signed up and we can go through it together.”

I agreed to join her quest. I probably could have read a book in the amount of time I spent not only creating my own profile but going through those the love algorithms chose as my perfect pairs. And are they perfect. Perfectly wrong. For example, handle name Zipper Ripper (I’m NOT making this up) is a 94% match with me, but his profile picture looks like it belongs in the serial killer hall of fame. Pass. All sorts of photo-less guys have sent me chat requests. None of them live within a 200-mile radius. “Hey gorgeous. Let’s talk.” Um, no thanks. A self-processed “handsome catch” details he only dates women with a BMI of nineteen, max, and he’s hardcore about it because he mentions it twice, along with the caveat that “skinny girls need love.”

Hey, I get it. I’m judging too. If you wear sunglasses in every picture, I assume you’re hiding something. I don’t even click on you if your profile photo is a bathroom or car selfie. If you indicate you don’t have time to read, I don’t have time to get to know you. Good grammar is a must. Forget your thoughts on politics, kids or religion; use of emoticons is a deal-breaker. And I know it’s DC, but I’m not impressed when your photo gallery is filled with shots of you posing with famous people.

I have to admit I’m not well-versed on the etiquette of Match. Winking is too forward of an action for me to take. How do you favorite someone you’ve never met? Do people really respond to messages? I mean, I haven’t responded to any I’ve received in my eight hours of experience. How do you express interest without being creepy?

In spite of all this, I don’t yet feel the urge to call and cancel my subscription. There have to be single, wine-loving, age-appropriate book nerds out there who don’t want new babies. Now if only the cyber gods will match us up.

 

 

and now the waiting

94,400 words, two professional rounds of edits and an uncountable number of marks with my dying red pen later, I’ve started pitching agents.

The first experience was only made tolerable by the help I got from my dad, who it turns out is an ace at writing proposals. On Facebook, I compared sending the first query to the first time having sex. It was dreadful. Uncomfortable. I was full of self doubt, but experienced a sense of relief when it was done. Six hours later, the agent in question rejected me (another parallel to my first sexual encounter) but each query I’ve made since has been easier. Better. And on the plus side, it only took two hours and four minutes for an agent in my top three to request my full manuscript.

Yes, as I described a few months ago, the agent pitching process is a lot like online dating. But worse in a way because you can’t tell whether someone peeked at your profile, and it could take four to six weeks to get a wink. Or you might not get a wink at all, as the downside to electronic submissions is that many agents only respond if they are interested. So at some point in the average response window, if you haven’t heard anything, you have to reach your own conclusion that s/he is just not that into you(r writing). I’m not good at reaching that conclusion in my dating life, so this part is going to be particularly tough for your favorite debut novelist wannabe.

In the meantime, while I wait to either hear back (or not) from the remaining 24 agents I’ve queried, I don’t really know how to channel my creative energy. Do I start writing the second book? Enter some writing contests? Revamp my Modern Love essay that was rejected? Reconnect with the real world, which I’ve more or less disappeared from since the  beginning of the new year? Recommit to finding a new client? Bask at the pool and read?

Or maybe, while I’m steeled for rejection, I’ll try online dating.

finding an agent: worse than online dating

If you’ve been around me at all over the last three months, you’ve probably heard me make the joke that as a debut novelist, the process of finding an agent is worse than online dating. Except it isn’t a joke at all. Not that I’m a huge match.com expert. The one time I tried it many years ago left me permanently scarred even though I went on zero dates.

Let’s hope I have better luck on my agent search.

If you don’t have a literary agent [eligible dating material] running in your social circles, you have to make a list of whom to query [join an online dating site]. That’s hard. There are agent databases [online dating sites] which share basic information like agency [bachelor] address [age, exaggerated height, eye color] and the genres [desired age range, kid preference, hobbies] the agent [prospective suitor] is interested in representing [finding in a partner]. You also get a sampling [photos] of their authors [adventurous vacations] many whom [places] you’ve never heard of [traveled to] which makes you feel guilty because you consider yourself an avid reader [traveler].

I’ve spent weeks amassing my initial list of 20 dream agents [dates]. I could end up querying [trying to date] 50-100, depending on my success with the first tranche [few suitors].

In all seriousness, once my manuscript is ready, the next step is to cold call agents, except I can’t actually call at all because phone calls are prohibited. Some agents accept email, though no attachments. Just one long message that includes cover letter, synopsis (sometimes 2-3 pages, sometimes 10-15) and maybe an excerpt from the beginning of my story. In many cases, you’re instructed to send the cover letter, synopsis and manuscript by snail mail, unless the literary agency has noted to only send a cover letter and synopsis because they’ll reach out if they want to read more.

Each query [photo] has to be personally tailored [perfect] so that they agent’s intern [bachelor’s best friend] who does the first round of cuts doesn’t throw me in the discard pile. I can’t compare myself to any classic writers [supermodels]. I’m supposed to share why I think I’d be compatible with that agent [bachelor].

Oh, and don’t forget to include a SASE for the rejection letter. Yes, you have to pay for your own rejection. That’s worse than a breakup text.

Speaking of, you don’t get rejected on the quality of your work [personality] at all, but on how riveting [gorgeous] your cover letter [photo] is. Are you kidding me? I just wrote a 95,000-word novel [am witty, warm, charming] and I have to catch your attention with my cover letter [looks]?

My first choice agent was written up recently as a rising star. She seems like someone I’d like as a friend. I picture us drinking a bottle of wine and talking books. She happens to be looking for the next hot debut author, a definite bonus. Then I saw her picture. She was wearing great, Chelsea-like eyewear and tall black boots.

Yes, I could work with [date] her.