Tracy Marchini (http://www.tracymarchini.com/) has worked as a literary agent’s assistant at Curtis Brown, Ltd. (http://curtisbrown.com) for over two years, and has spent a significant amount of time answering Laura Manivong’s newbie questions (thanks, Tracy!). Before joining Curtis Brown, she worked as a freelance children’s book reviewer for BookPage and as a correspondent for the Taconic Press. She’s also well-known for being the only second grader in her class to write a book report on a book she penned herself. So Tracy understands both the authoring side of books, as well as the literary agency side. Without further ado, here’s Tracy Marchini…
ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BOX: THE FIRST PICTURE BOOK
I’ll be honest — when my desk is covered with paper, and I feel the need to throw out massive amounts of something in one fell swoop — the answer is unpleasant, but obvious.
It’s time to go through the slush pile.
Several years ago I questioned whether I was meant to write. I was satisfied with nothing and had tried many different writing avenues without success or satisfaction, yet I still felt driven. So if I had to write, what should I focus on? What were my strengths?
I created the following quiz for my husband who had read all of my best and some of my worst material.
My mom hates me. I know this because she got my four-year-old this for his birthday. He named it “Spatula.”
I keep wanting to shriek and throw a book at it. Which isn’t a very nice thing for a writer to do to a book. And speaking of arachnids in (or should I say under?) literature, Charlotte from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web is the only spider I would never throw a book at.
My husband and I decided, after noting water damage, that it was time to update the one bathroom in our late 1930s bungalow. This isn’t our first remodeling project. We’ve knocked down walls and installed sliding doors, built a deck, gutted our kitchen, refinished hardwood floors. But as I troweled globs of Thinset on my bathroom walls, slapped ceramic tiles in place over and over again and choked back the urge to strangle my husband, I thought how this particular project resembled the emotional and physical rollercoaster I endure as a writer.
The late Marshal McLuhan claimed readers could judge a book not by its cover but by its 69th page. In other words, if page 69 grabs your attention, the rest of the book will too. I took his tenet one step further and grabbed three of my favorite writing books: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and On Writing by Stephen King. If we turn to page 69, what bits of writerly wisdom might they impart?
As writers, the most important thing we can do is read, right? But if you’re like me, you can’t remember what flavor rice cake you ate yester morn, much less the details of the 200 books you were supposed to read last year. Couple that with the oft-heard advice to “do your researchâ€ and “target your submissions,â€ and new writers everywhere can be heard mumbling, “What the denouement does targeting your submissions mean?â€