Literary Agents & Honest Tables

Literary Agents & Honest Tables

“I’m meeting with my agent,” I said to my mom a few days ago.

She laughs. I tell her as soon as everyone knows her name I will just call her Keely. I feel as ridiculous as my mom thinks I sound saying “my agent.” Give me a cup of tea, and I’ll stick my pinky in the air.

I have a literary agent. I am still waiting for that to feel real and, if I am being honest, still waiting to feel the unrestrained joy I imagined would come with this career achievement.

I would have never guessed this opportunity would feel bittersweet. I have been a writer since elementary school and have wished to be an author for as many years. I have a new book idea weekly, and have started more than a few Word documents thinking I might have found the “real thing.” 

And now people in the industry I have wanted to break into for decades are saying I’ve got what it takes. That’s exciting! I am celebrating myself, my hard work, my gifts, my faithfulness.

But here’s the thing: If our Rise community has taught me anything, it is that so many women have “got what it takes.” That in your neighborhoods, your churches, your schools, your families, your offices, you have what it takes. You are doing absurdly important work quietly, faithfully and most often without fanfare.

I am thinking about many of you by name—women I believe in so much it hurts, women whose voices need to be heard, women whose work is deserving of exponential growth, and I want you to know I see you today. I want you to know I have cried the tears, felt the tension, rejoiced genuinely with others while simultaneously feeling crushed for the 100th time. I have sat on the couch I am sitting on now, deeply thrilled for a friend signing a publishing contract while crying tears of confusion that her news was not mine.

I want to tell you that you will all get here, that at the right time your door will open and you will post the joyful picture announcing your long hoped-for news. But I won’t, for while it might make me feel better, it is trite and misleading.

I have always found it strange when women with huge platforms tell the rest of us not to worry about platform; frustrated when published authors tell us to write for the writing alone; insincere when women at the head of the table assure us there is still room for us while they remain at the top. And maybe that is cynical of me or some kind of weird jealousy, but I think what it really is is an ache for women to be more than Instagram authentic. I want women leaders to be self-aware of every inch of their life and to speak and act out of that intense self-awareness.

I want New York Times bestsellers to not act like their lives are like ours without regularly acknowledging publicly that they are indeed not like us.

I do believe there is enough for all of us. But the “enough” doesn’t always look like we thought it would. In fact, the longer I live, the more I see that provision, success and growth rarely look how we thought it would. I do believe there is room at the table for everyone, but I don’t think that long table is just sitting there ready to welcome all. I think we have to scoot our chairs uncomfortably close together, add in the heavy table leaf dragged out from the garage and sometimes even do that half-butt chair split. 

And, maybe most importantly, we have to create a table safe enough that we can show up, honestly, right where we find ourselves. So at this table, when someone’s good news comes, it’s OK to feel sad, to wish it was you, to question and wonder. It is OK to think your writing is better than mine, to be angry as you have been writing for decades longer than I have. I have been there. There is no shame in that jealousy rising up in you. Acknowledge it. Sit with it. Don’t tie it up with easy Christian answers and a bow. Then return to your own self-awareness, your own heart, call and motivation. Cry your tears, send your angry texts to friends, then go to sleep, get back up tomorrow and be faithful as best you can.

My commitment to you is both simple and incredibly difficult to execute. I too will wake up every day and do my best to be faithful. I will be faithful to God, holding the tension of the gifts He has given me and my responsibility to share those, as well as the gifts I see in each of you that I desperately want to amplify. I will be faithful to myself, allowing myself to dream big dreams and to persist in the work I believe matters. And I will be faithful to this community God has so kindly given us. I will keep showing up in the joy and the grief. I will teach, and I will learn. I will give, and I will receive. And I will work everyday to welcome more women to this table.

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The Flight: A Monthly Book Sample (July 2019)

The Flight: A Monthly Book Sample (July 2019)

The Flight: A Monthly Book Sampler (June 2019)

The Flight: A Monthly Book Sampler (June 2019)