Keep Swimming


Keep pushing.

Keep submitting.

“How many queries have you sent out,” she asked me from the deep-seated chair snuck up against the second story window in Shakespeare and Company.

I rapidly flicked through the e-mails in my head.

“About thirty, maybe forty,” I said after a moment’s calculations.

“After you hit fifty, stop and start doing follow-up e-mails,” she said with a smile, “that’ll keep you busy for the next few months.”


Yes, it will.

“Have you gotten any response?” She asked, the light glinting off her glasses, I noticed the miniature frame of the window in her frames and then the snow drift that fell from the swollen grey lowering sky.

I shared the response, mostly no’s and one agent in Connecticut who asked for the entire book.

“Push her, follow-up,” she said, leaning forward out of the chair.

The door behind me opened and an employee of the book store came out with a small black and white Holstein, no, wait that is a baby French Bulldog.

Oh, I want one.

I want a little Frenchie to nestle in my lap as I read books in a corner of Shakespeare and Company, really on a cold day there are only a few places more appealing than a warm book store with corners and cubbies and nooks, one in which a stand up piano was softly being played and a woman with a halting French accent picked out a tune on the yellowed keys.

Maybe a warm cafe.

Shakespeare and Company should also open a cafe.

I am sure they have heard that before.

Maybe I could open my own.

Or I could just style a salon in my home, I will have a home someday in Paris, a home with a library and deep cozy chairs and a fireplace to warm up the toes on.

Ah dreams.

Ah, the dreams I get to currently live.

The experience of being here, even when I have no idea how long or wherefore after, I have this, I have had three and a half months in Paris.

Wintery Paris.

Snowy wet cold grey slate salt ice crackled frost white bare branched windy Paris.

Imagine how it will be in Spring.

Just hang in there this month is almost over.

On one hand I don’t want March to come, I don’t want to think past these last few days of my rent being paid and then back in the boat of scrapping and scrabbling.

A friend from San Francisco is here and we had lunch today at le Comptoir de L’Arc, thank you for the treat!  And I expressed that no I don’t know what I am doing, or where I am going, or how I am going to get there.  But I have this, these experiences.

And this is worth an awful lot.

I am happy.

I am happy despite what my writer friend said to me in the book store.

She did not paint the brightest of pictures.

She described the challenge of being a writer and how she has gone about it.  The more she talked the more I was in awe that there were even any books that ever did get published.  Looking at the titles on the bookshelves, how did they do it?

I tried to keep the frown of my face, I sighed.

“The market is over saturated,” she continued, “there’s a lot of books out there like your book.”

Memoir that is.

She’s right, the market probably is over saturated, but when have I cared for odds?


She did say to keep swimming, she did say it would change, she did say there would be a yes, she said, follow-up, then follow-up, then follow-up again.  Hit your 50 queries and start bugging people.

Annoy them.


The person who gets published is often the person who does not give up.

I am not about to give up.

I am here in Paris after all, past the point of my tourist Visa, past the point of my savings, slipping on and off the Metro and transferring stations all over the city to get to a baby sitting gig here or there or elsewhere, just so that I can be here, getting a lunch here from a friend, a small gift of money from another friend via Paypal, a few euro in the mail.

I am getting to live so in the present, that I am constantly being showered with gifts.

Sometimes they look like snow flurries falling through the glazed pane windows of a book shop on the Left Bank in Paris.  I won’t forget the snow falling along the lamp-post of Pont Neuf, or the way the spire of Notre Dame raises up, almost supporting the heavy mass of grey clouds.

Then she said the magic words, words I was waiting for more than perhaps the hows and whats and whys of publishing (honestly after the talk I had no idea if I was meant to be a published author at all) or whether I will get published at all…and then she said,

“you’re a great writer.”

I inwardly heaved a sigh.

Yes, I want to be a published writer living on my words, getting advances and royalties and options and all the stuff she was talking about, yes, drench my ego in the financial glory of glittery literary stardom.

Fete me damn it.

Yet, what I want more, much more, is to be a good writer.

I accept that I may not have the kind of financial success that I dream of.

I have, however, had success.

I have had another person pick up the book and say, you are a good writer.

“You are a great writer, don’t stop writing.”

I am a great writer in Paris.

I’ll keep swimming with that kind of motivation.

That was the push I needed to send out another query today, number 37 (random, arbitrary number I just pulled out of my ass, I have no idea to the number how many I have sent out since I finished the book) toward the next step in the long process of getting published.

I will get published.

I will.

In Paris.

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2 Responses to “Keep Swimming”

  1. Shannon Says:

    Just send out 40 to represent your age! 🙂

    And I agree…. follow-up now is the key. Not that I know anything about writing, but I do know what a full email inbox looks like. And how many times I’ve worked on something simply because someone emailed me a second time.

    And yay on swimming! I’m enjoying it a lot… first time swimming as exercise in my life (other than a semester swim class I took 10 years ago). It’s been great!

    big *hug* from SF~

    • auntiebubba Says:

      I love it! Bril idea. Will be hitting the pool tomorrow. Got a swim in yesterday too. Yeah, the woman I met with today told me the same thing, in fact, she said it was pretty much a done thing, you have to follow up. So, that’s the next thing. Love to you!

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