Imagine getting punched in the face 400 times.
Okay, I guess that’s pretty hard to imagine. One punch is imaginable, maybe two. After that it’s hard to comprehend. So let’s space it out and give it context. Imagine you’re walking down the street along a tall, wooden fence, and you come to a head-sized hole in the fence. You, being the curious sort, stick your face in the hole to see what’s on the other side, and someone just socks you right in the nose.
Now imagine you’re walking along, the very next day, nose all bandaged, and you come to that same fence hole. Are you going to stick your stupid face in that stupid hole?
Whammo. Socked again.
Now imagine doing that same thing for 400 days in a row.
Welcome to being Stoop (read: yours truly).
But it doesn’t end there, people. Stoop eventually stopped sticking his face in the hole and tried to self-pub, but when that didn’t pan out like he hoped it might, you know what Stoop did? He walked right up to that fence hole and stuck his stupid fat face in there, smiling a toothless, broken-nosed grin.
Why? Because why not me? That’s why. Because I was still willing to be pummeled. And maybe I should stop right here and mention that, in my opinion, this is what talent means. I don’t have any talent. Trust me on that. Read my first book for five minutes and you’ll know what I mean. I’m a talentless hack… but I’m willing to be pummeled. I’m willing to grind and grind and grind until something emerges. And maybe someday someone will read some of my work and they’ll say, “Man, you’re talented.” And I’ll say, “No. I’m battered and bruised and hardened. I’m annihilated. I’m what’s left of spending decades sticking my stupid face in a fence hole.”
“Follow your passion, kid.”
So. Querying. Again. This time I didn’t write stupid-ass “novel of fiction” so I was off to a better start. I mean, I still got rejected hundreds more times, but something had changed. I was getting back notes and suggestions. I was getting back invitations to query again if I had anything else.
Whoa. This thing was starting to look a little more real.
And then one day I brought my lunch pail to the fence hole, stuck my face in, braced for the impact… and nothing happened. I opened my eyes and saw, well, not much; it was just the other side of the fence. But the point is, I didn’t get my face smashed. I got a nice rejection from an agent who’d held on to my book for a couple months, indecisive about whether or not to offer me representation. She ultimately decided not to, but invited me to query her again.
Hardened now, battered now, I didn’t even get excited. I waited a few days and then sent back an email, all casual as hell, like, “Oh hey, thanks for the response. I just happen to have this other book here, it’s called NORMAL. Thought maybe you’d like to check it out. If not, that’s cool. I mean, I’ve got plenty of other agents and publishing houses drooling on the other side of this fence but, you know, whatever. Get back to me if you feel like it.”
Now, I know most agents are in New York, so I knew if I ever got a worthwhile call from anywhere, it would be from NY. I swear to God, two days later I was at work and got a call from NY. I hopped out of my chair and fell down, staggered out of the room, ran down the hall for privacy and answered the phone all breathless as hell, like, “Hello.”
“Hello,” said a robot, “this call is for SCOTT HOLLIDAY. Our records indicate that your FORD FOCUS will no longer be covered by…”
Seriously? From New York? Never have I received a telemarketer call from NY, before or since. It just had to be two days after I sent out that book because?
Because pummel, pummel, pummel.
But she eventually did call…