Quote: “It’s bold and interesting.” Tom Jenks (editor of Narrative Magazine in reference to my novel-in-progress).
Wouldn’t it be exciting to say I will be jetting off to San Francisco by myself in May for a five- day workshop with TOM JENKS? Luggage would be twenty pages of my current manuscript and the &%^ short story about my runaway au pair that has turned into my personal albatross, a black cashmere sweater and a pencil skirt.
I did talk to Tom Jenks on the phone. The man who has edited “America’s Best Short Stories” and worked with crazy famous authors like Joyce Carol Oates. I’m going to keeping saying his name for the rest of this entry, so you can stop rolling your eyes. I texted my sister Tammy about five times before the schedule call with the countdown clock numbers. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. We talked for twenty-nine minutes. He gave me feedback on the story, offered suggestions, told me the first pages of my current project were bold and interesting. Then he discussed the price of the class, the reading list, and what the work load would entail. He also said he could help me fix the technique problems he’d noted — I’m too visual and need a stronger narrative framework to contain my images. Sounded fantastic and wonderful and decadent — like I could call myself an ‘artiste’ with a capital ‘A’ if I grabbed this opportunity.
Lot of negative thoughts: what if that is steroid week for Evelyn – no one else can handle the medications of steroid week but me. Even normal weeks of giving chemo is a lot to turn over to someone else. And, Who? And who is going to keep the household running. Mabye acceptance was only for the tuition money, not because I’m any good. Too much money and too far away. What would I really get out of it. Would I turn into that mom who went to Japan and never came back, leaving her two young sons behind in exchange for a New York Times best seller?
Or, maybe it would have been as wonderful as I’d imagined and my writing would have gone up to the next level, I would have finished my novel in progress, my short story would have been accepted before I’d even left California, someone would have thrown around terms like “Pushcart prize” and “O. Henry” and I’d start wearing a beret.
Probably would have been somewhere in between those extremes. I moped for a bit, sulked, did some “if he’d REALLY liked my sample pages, he could have called or e-mailed me.” Which most people would probably consider stalker-ish, but in my world just means you care.
Moving on. My friend May sent me a list of workshops that are closer, tuition more reasonable, dates more flexible. I’ll be working on the admission packet in the next few weeks. I also wrote down the books on TOM JENKS’ reading list and will be checking them out of the library. Finally, I have his suggestions for that stupid au pair story. Still don’t know if I made the right decision, but I’m including this entry because I did, after all, talk to a recognized member of the elite literary establishment. For 29 minutes.