Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cat, bag

Now that the Ecco news is no longer so hush-hush, it's great to share it. For everyone who has expressed their congratulations, you have my thanks. For everyone who has muttered dark tidings upon my house, I share at least some measure of your disbelief / confusion. It has been a wildly disassociative ride. And fast. Betsy contacted me the week before Christmas, on the 18th, I believe. She had attended the Whiting ceremony and had read my first book in the weeks following. I was about to leave Carrollton for the holidays. The week before I'd turned in grades. I didn't really want to check my UWG account: I really didn't want to see any "Why'd I get a D, huh?" emails. There weren't any, thankfully. But there was Betsy's email, wondering if I were represented and if I'd written any nonfiction. Well, obviously I wasn't represented, but I had spent the summer the year before last working on a memoir. Other things had sidelined it: Notes being accepted; job applications; interviews; campus visits; heartbreak; regathering; one more application, here; moving; beginning teaching. This leaves out all the new poems I was writing. Eventually, the draft of the memoir had been sitting on my hard drive, untouched, for over a year. I sent her ten pages, then the rest. We agreed to work together. Betsy began giving me notes on revisions and I began to write what would add up to about 8,000 words of new material. On January 3rd, we sent the manuscript out to about 15 publishers. Within a few hours, there was interest. Ecco wanted to publish my poems as well. There was no beating their interest or commitment. Despite two nauseating, agonizing days of negotiating, Ecco was the best fit. Keep in mind that to everyone involved but me it was just business: for me, it was some sort of really painful yet exciting hallucination. Betsy had to sort of hold my hand through the entire process. My response to everything was essentially, oh, how funny, this strange dream. None of it was expected, to say the least. I'm not sure my defective brain has really made exact sense of any of it. Still, I am amazed and excited. The memoir is just crazy talk; I may never get my head around it. But it's intensely exciting for my third collection, barring title change, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, to be published by Ecco. That's just nutty. Science fiction stuff. I kept saying that to Betsy about the whole process, that it seemed like sci-fi, me who is used to contributor's copies as payment. I was excited about an 80 dollar check the other day: lunch for the week! So I am still adjusting.

Betsy is an amazing editor, agent, and, most happily, friend. I owe her a great deal and feel like I am riding some unseen wave of serendipity. Despite whatever successes in writing I had, the last four years or so have been really hard for me. Some of you know that better than others and it's you I owe a last thanks here. You were encouraging when I didn't want to be encouraged. You were kind and honest and present. Thank you for that.

So that's the nutshell. The abridged version. It's good to get it out.

17 comments:

Justin Evans said...

Paul:

Congratulations! I am very happy that you took the time to explain things about your book deal. The link you placed won't open up for me on my school computer and my home computer is not working.

I think it's wonderful you have found an agent/editor who can be your friend, too.

I look forward to reading your memoir and next book in a year or so.

Christian said...

Dark tidings upon your house, huh?

May you be forced to watch Mario Van Peebles films nonstop for 24 hours.

or

May you watch Event Horizon alone and a dry theater with surround sound.

or, simply...

"I curse you, Thinner!!"

Christian said...

in a dry theater...

I can't type worth a damn this morning.

Seth Abramson said...

Jaw-droppingly awesome news, Paul. WOW & Way to go! (Sorry I missed the other thread!)
Be well,
Seth

Wendy Wisner said...

:) love you babe

Sandra said...

This just makes me so damn delighted.

Dr. S said...

Rock on, man. This is all so exciting.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Congratulations!

Soon you will be time traveling and visiting other dimensions.

Matthew Thorburn said...

Thanks for sharing the story behind your great news. How amazing and wonderful. I'm really happy for you, and looking forward to reading your memoir -- and your first book of poems from Ecco (how cool is that!). I think CDY is right about a future Oprah appearance....

Anonymous said...

God, you're amazing.

newzoopoet said...

Man, this is simply great news in a world that sorely needs it. Congrats, Paul!

Nick McRae said...

You are a badass. I miss you.

Jett Superior said...

Hoo! Ray!

early hours of sky said...

Wow Paul I am so incredibly proud of you.

I wish many books upon your house. Good books indeed.

cat said...

i'm giggling happily, doin' my sock dance under the desk.

congratulations!

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