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Into the HarperDome.

Finally, for the first time ever, after a decade or more writing, after publishing an absurd number of books, I've actually met face to face with an editor. And lived to tell the tale!

We'd always been in a position to do the face-to-face. Scholastic invited us, back in the day. But K. and I are suspicious, narrow, unfriendly and controlling people. We hated the idea of meeting with editors because we worried it would dilute our control.

Control.

Yes, our control over a silly kid book series that has kids turning into animals. Look: Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch and Oprah and even Harry Reid have their empires, I have mine. Mine's just, you know, tiny.

Anyway, I penetrated straight to the heart of The Beast: HarperCollins, mightiest of publishing behemoths. Had lunch with my editor, met the publisher, and met sales and marketing and publicity.

I was very conscious as I blathered on that I was sitting where literally hundreds of thousands of people would like to sit. Writers just starting out are desperate to make contact with the actual human beings on the far end of the slush pile. If I could have put my lunch with my editor up on e-bay I guarantee I could have sold it for ten thousand dollars. There are writers out there who would have mortgaged their homes or sold a kidney to be able to grab the empty chair.

I wonder -- and I'll have to ask someday -- if these folks understand that they are the object of so much longing. Do they understand that there are thousands of people whose egos, hopes and happiness hang on their choices? People checking their mailboxes, checking their email, obsessing over whether voice mail may have somehow missed the vital call?

I sat there across the table from my editor and could see a vast crowd of faces pressed against the glass behind him, eyes filled with longing, manuscripts clutched in their hands. I was acutely conscious of my good luck. But not so filled with egalitarian feeling that I failed to place the proposal for my next project directly into his hands, effectively jumping the line ahead of all those waiting thousands.

Knowing you're lucky, knowing you don't deserve it? Good. Failing to exploit your luck? That's just stupid.

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“Into the HarperDome.”

  1. Blogger reader_iam Says:

    I'm not getting the "don't deserve it" part.

    Haven't you been working hard, and for years? Haven't you done the pitching, and the followup, and all that stuff? Got up and done what you were supposed to do? More precisely, "done" more than just talked about doing?

    And hasn't the work you've produced provided pleasure/value to the people who've bought it--kids, no less!--and with no bad side affects, of which I'm aware?

    Doesn't sound like a "doesn't deserve it" profile to me.

  2. Blogger Michael Reynolds Says:

    I guess it's a question of degree. An awful lot of people do what I do, or try to, and work harder at it than I do. But a disappearingly tiny proportion of hardworking writers get to where I am.

    So, yeah, I do all the things you said (and thanks) but I like to tip my hat to the element of luck and acknowledge that the big roulette wheel in the sky has been kind to me.

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