Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Goofus & Gallant Go Out on Submission

I hope I’m not going to get sued by Highlights for Children for borrowing what is surely copyrighted, trademarked, legally-whatever-ified, material, but I’m using our old friends Goofus and Gallant in today’s post. 

Many of us, I'm sure, wiled away the hours in doctors’ waiting rooms as kids, learning how to conduct ourselves in the world by reading about how Goofus and Gallant comported themselves in various social situations.

Anyhoo. Did you know that Goofus and Gallant both grew up to be writers? They sure did. Poor sods. And funnily enough, both Goofus and Gallant went out on submission at the same time! Let’s see what happened with them and how they handled it, shall we?

After a months-long process of thoughtful, careful revision, Gallant’s manuscript was ready to go out on sub. He thanked his agent for his hard work and then promptly forgot all about his book, choosing instead to pour his energies into other writing projects as well as the normal volunteer work he did. Helping others was its own reward, and if his dream to be a published author came true, that would be nothing more than icing on the cake. Not that Gallant liked icing. In fact, he never ate cake, even on his birthday. Heavens, no. Do you know how many calories there are in a tablespoon of buttercream frosting? That's why Gallant preferred to celebrate special occasions by eating baked (sustainable) fish with a refreshing squeeze of lemon.

After six weeks, Gallant finally got word that his book had sold in a modest deal. Wonderful news! Better still, he was thrilled to learn that he’d be a midlist author because anything more than that would seem too showy. He celebrated, as usual, with a delicious baked fish, and then called his mother. She’d always been very encouraging about his writing and to show his appreciation, he used his small advance to buy her some new nightgowns from Land’s End.

The night Goofus went out on sub, he took out his platinum Amex card – that he’d gotten under false pretenses by plucking the pre-approved application out of his roommate’s trash can -- and threw it down on the counter at his local club, instructing the bartender to buy a round of drinks for the whole place because he was rich. Or about to be. He threw back his Fuzzy Navel* with a laugh, imagining the death match that was about to begin somewhere in New York City amongst editors who would be vying for rights to his book. It was going to be just like The Hunger Games! Except with editors!

For the next few days, he toggled between his cell phone and email like a hyperactive lab rat looking for a food pellet. Around day nine, he began peppering his agent with inquiries, but of course, his agent had no news for him. This was perplexing. It became even more perplexing as the days turned into weeks and then months. At some point, someone came and carted off his flat screen television and XBox. Something about repo. He didn’t bother getting all the details. He sucked at Halo 4 anyway, so who cared? 

Meanwhile on Twitter, triumphant tweets from authors announcing their new book deals seem to scroll by like a cruel stock ticker. Each tweet was like an astringent-soaked toothpick in his eye. Or rather, his heart. OK, that didn’t make any sense. He’d never been that good at metaphors or similes or whatever. Maybe that was why his book hadn’t sold yet. Maybe… maybe his book … maybe it wasn’t really all that … probably should work on something new in case… NO! NO! He fought to maintain his composure. Hadn’t Michael Bay come to him in a fevered dream that night he woke up on the toilet, still clutching his cell phone because he hadn't wanted to miss any calls? Hadn’t this Michael vision whispered to him about franchise potential? That had to mean something! Didn’t it? Didn’t it?!

This momentary glimpse into the abyss of his craven soul, however, had no effect on his work habits. He wrote nothing new for the next seven months and sank into a torpor so deep it might have qualified as hibernation. Eventually he tried to check himself into the hospital for exhaustion, but medical staff could find nothing wrong with him other than abnormally high levels of bitterness in his bloodstream. He was treated and released and told by his parents that perhaps it was time he looked into temping.


Well, there it is. Hope you’ll be able to conduct yourself with aplomb when it's your turn to go out on submission.

*Can you believe anyone still drinks Fuzzy Navels? What a jerk!