I'm staying in a two-bedroom apartment that's very "lived in" by a Wisconsin transplant who is very gay and is currently putting flamingo wallpaper up in the bathroom. The windows' springs do not work, so little pieces of wood sit beneath the windowsill to keep the windows open if I should want to open it and listen to the rush of the city beneath.
On my first day here I rode with an Über driver, who wasn't an Über driver, but a scam of a driver who worked for nobody and requested I pay him through Venmo.
I obliged because for a minute I thought I'd be sold to one of his trafficking masters when he said, "You got gum?" I laughed, and said, "Yes, I have gum, would you like some?"
"Yes," the man said. And then he added, "I will stop somewhere to buy you more gum."
And that's where I said, "Nope. Please take me to this address and that's it."
He took me to the address, and it was late, like almost midnight. A man with a very large dog and a spiked collar came walking by, as I am looking very out of place and confused with my phone googling the Airbnb address and looking for familiar building names. A homeless man began mumbling and not looking in my direction but not not looking in my direction either. I wondered, is the "West Bank" the same as the "New York West Bank?" or is that different? Starbucks... that's a good place to begin! I found Starbucks and walked across the street to find 3 doors that all looked the same.
A man with a mustache popped his head out of door number 2 and said, "Emilee?"
I said, "THANK GOD!"
My roommate has been nothing short of fabulous, fantastic, and lovely. He has lived in NYC for fifteen years and is a teacher. His place feels like home to me, with a large map of the Brooklyn Bridge splayed across the north-facing wall in black and white. There's a large mirror left behind from a girl who's an editor from, of all places, St.Cloud, Minnesota.
The point of this conference is to meet with editors and agents from big publishing houses to see if your work has commercial potential, which means, would a traditional publishing house be interested in paying you an advance for your work?
I suppose it's kind of a big deal. But when I got home after the third day and my roommate asked, while leaning into one hip in his short shorts and high socks, said, "Did you get any requests?!?"
I was calm. I wasn't ecstatic or overjoyed. I was tired, but I did say yes. A few agents and editors requested to see my work. He looked semi-disappointed that his Minnesota week-long roommate who came to a writers' conference to gain interest in her fiction novel wasn't jumping up and down at the fact that she did exactly as she came to do... which was gain interest.
Of course, getting any agent or editor interested in your work is a huge deal. But there are so many steps after that. It's not a book deal, and even if it was a book deal, then there's all the negotiation and the pressure of actually selling the book well enough for the company that paid you the advance to get their money back. There are so many steps that come after, and if I were to get all out-of-control amped about this little step, it might be a great, sad, all-consuming downfall if I don't get an actual book real which is like one in a million-zillion-trillion.
I say all that to say this: I love the entire process. I love being the writer who spends hours hunched over her computer at 5:00 am writing something that nobody might ever care about but I just do it because it makes my soul come alive. I love the process of pitching my work and learning how to speak to agents and editors. I love the rejection, which, there is a lot of it. I love the constructive feedback. I love the fact that the first agent told me my title isn't good, but I know I will never change it, and the fact that she also told most of the other people in my group that their titles were trash as well. I love the acceptance. I love the interest. I love the re-working and edits after edits after edits with a final manuscript file that looks like this "Final_Manuscript_edited(4)_final_edits_re-worked_final(6)."
If the file name doesn't look like that, it ain't ready.
I love the entire process, and I think that in any endeavor in life-- it should be about the process. Getting married, for example, isn't about the day of the wedding. While, yes, the day of the wedding is important (why aren't the flowers here yet??), a marriage is really about the entire life process. Is about working together through everything from book deals to tragic life-altering losses. It's about the good days and the days you want to tell your spouse to pack their shit and leave for at least 90 business days.
The journey of life is all of it, the exciting and the depressing.
I went to my first psychic while I've been in NYC. While walking in Time Square, I saw a sign that read, "Psychic" pointing to a steep staircase smashed between a nail salon and a Chinese restaurant. I figured, why not?
There were many options this woman offered including palm reading, double palm reading, tarot card reading, full life tarot reading, crystal ball, and life path revealing.
I figured I'd go big since this was a one-and-done sort of thing. I went with the crystal ball.
"Okay," the woman who had just as many missing teeth as she did still intact said, "put your hands on this crystal ball."
I did as instructed.
Her mahogany brown eyes stared into the ball as if she were watching a Netflix series about my life. And then, she began, "You are a very lucky girl," she said. "You were born under good stars, it is just how you were born. You have great success coming to you in this life. You are successful in career, but relationship have been difficult."
I shook my head.
"Relationship been difficult and heart been broken many time. Am I correct?"
"Somebody from your past hurt you very badly and they want bad things for you in life."
I suddenly hear Drake in my mind, "Bad things / there's a lotta bad things that they wishin and wishin and wishin on me..."
So I got that going on for me in my mind, and she continues, "Here the thing about you: you is very successful, but this make people jealous and they want you to fail."
I thought, "common story, lady."
Truth be told, a lot of what she said really did resonate with me, besides that story about a woman killing a chicken and pouring its blood over an item of mine that she stole to put a hex on me and if I pay her $400 she will remove the hex.
I told her thank you for your time.
Walking out of that building, I felt really in control of my life, and just like if some chick got it out so bad for me that she stole something of mine and brought it to a witch doctor to spill the blood of a chicken on it to make a hex on my life, I will take the L on that one.
Tomorrow is my last full day in NYC and I have much more to say on that topic, but for now, I must return to re-working my manuscript. It's all a process, and I believe that when you find your true passion in life, you'll fall in love with the process. No matter what it is. It's about the process. Or, the journey as opposed to the destination as that saying goes that usually written over some person walking down wilderness path headed toward nowhere with less-that-impressive preparation to be headed anywhere (where's your water??).
Whatever is happening for you, I hope you're enjoying the process.