Tag Archives: Peter Hedges

What is 2 AM good for?

As I mentioned last week, I’ve finished my first novel and have been shopping it around to agents.  The whole business of writing query letters and finding representation was entirely new to me.  I turned to The Writer’s Market and Your Novel Proposal for help and then began the mad process.

Finding an agent feels like online dating, and I’ve had so many crushes.  Oh, look at their favorite authors, I gush internally.  They’ve represented THEM?  Is it creepy to follow them on Twitter?  The question of When do I follow up my query? makes me feel like an anxious high school girl again.  I’ve had a few interested agents; none interested enough to take on the project, but a few interested enough to read and give feedback.  From those, and from my helpful beta readers (aka, very good and patient friends), I’ve changed the novel so much from the finished draft I was sending out in January.

The biggest change happened just two days ago, thanks to my daughter and Peter Hedges.  I’ve been reading many of Hedges’ books lately (he’s an Iowa author, most famously of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and An Ocean in Iowa).  In What’s Eating, a character makes the choice early in the novel to run over the lawn chair that his sister had recently been tanning herself in.  The action so surprised me that I had to put the book down.  It was such a cinematic moment (and it’s no wonder that Hedges focuses mainly on screenplays now).  I realized that my main character wasn’t making enough choices, and no real choice was made at the end of the novel.

Two AM two nights ago, my daughter called out from her crib for some food, and while feeding her, the idea came to me.  A big decision that would tie together the entire novel.  I don’t often feel grateful for my daughter’s multiple wakings, but this time I couldn’t have been happier (even if I had been more well rested).

The point of this musing is to commiserate with current writers, out there in the midst of agent-hunting.  Hopefully our novels find literary homes.