Okay, I’m going to admit something. I haven’t been straight with you all, because at the time a lot of this went down, it didn’t matter. Now, all of a sudden, it does.
At the end of last year, I was dropped by my agent. I can’t say that I blame him. I pretty much hadn’t written a word of use to him for at least three years, the time during which my mother lived with us. And for the two years before that, when my wife and I were checking on her at least twice a week. Add to that the fact that in the years before that, he was looking for thrillers to market at around 100k words, and I was wanting to genre bend a little, and the project I did it with, which he told me not to write, came in at 170k. Nothing personal, it was just business.
Now he was a good agent at a time when I needed one who did the kinds of things he did. And he got me into some good things. The ghostwriting gig that I still can’t talk about. The sale of the Pembroke Hall books to the Canadian film company that made my worst-selling novels my biggest moneymakers, even though nothing ever got filmed. The sales to Russia. But we had growing creative differences over the fact that he was trying to streamline the sales process by asking me to turn in 100,000 word thrillers and I was wanting to push myself as a writer and stretch out, poking and tweaking the conventions of genre.
I suppose if I have any regret about our nearly two-decade relationship is that I should have been the one to end it since I knew I was no longer of use to him. But in the context of taking care of my mother, it didn’t seem all that important.
So the end of 2008 was the end of an era, and frankly, I couldn’t have cared less. Over the last couple of years, writing had come to mean less to me than at any point in my adult life, and probably most of my adolescent life, too. I had other avenues of expression – writing and singing songs, which is confined mostly to my bedroom, and The Home World, the weekly webcomic I started in September of last year, and the plays I have been writing and directing for our church’s Vacation Bible School. I was too busy serving God to write much more than that.
Basically, writing career dead, stick a fork in it, it’s done. And I couldn’t have cared less. I had moved on. Other things in life were more important.
And then, two weeks ago, everything changed.
I opened my Gmail account to find a communique there with the subject line touching base re Film/TV rights. It was from a woman in Los Angeles, the sister of the woman who had bought the Pembroke Hall rights all those many years ago. She was looking for exciting new properties to represent, and her sister told her she ought to look into this guy named Joe Clifford Faust (okay, so his properties weren’t exactly new – but they were clever and innovative and unused).
This nice lady asked me about the Pembroke Hall novels and – surprise! – The Company Man, which hadn’t seen a movie nibble since my first agent tried to put a copy into the hands of Sir Ridley (only he wasn’t Sir back then, and he also didn’t want to get typed as an SF director, so his advance man took a pass on the book).
The next day we talked on the phone for 55 minutes. I mentioned A Death of Honor, along with a screenplay I’m starting to develop as a favor to a friend, and when the conversation was over, I had a new agent.
I also came away with an assignment: to write a bunch of synopses for the books she is going to try to convert to movies or TV series. Yeah, you read that right. She, like her sister, seems to think that the Pembroke Hall novels would make a good TV series.
While I was writing, I got on a roll and decided to send her a synopsis of the 170,000 word novel that my ex-agent didn’t want me to write that I need to whip into a final draft, just as a surprise bonus. To see what happens.
Funny thing. Reading the manuscript for that novel by way of getting the plot line in my head makes me realize that it’s my best novel ever, even a quantum leap over Pembroke Hall, which my ex-agent once said was a magnum opus for me.
Suddenly I want to finish that neglected manuscript.
Interestingly enough, all of this comes at a time when I can actually do it now, with my mother safe in God’s hands and the children having mostly flown the coop for college and points beyond.
When things like this happen, I prick up my ears and see if I can hear God laughing, because I know from events like this that he has a sense of humor. I’m reminded that his boy told us something about losing our life to gain it. Well, I gave up my writing life to essentially serve him, and now I seem to have gotten it back with a vengeance. I should also note that his boy could raise the dead, among other things. So resurrection of a career is a piece of cake.
Yeah, I got some work to do (on top of this year’s VBS play, a sci-fi extravaganza of sorts).
And that’s not the whole story, either.
Because yesterday I had a pretty remarkable day, too. But it’s late now (early, actually) – making that a story for another day.