My novel, all four hundred and seventy three pages, is sitting in a box on the writing table in my office. I’ve written, revised, and rewritten it for over two years now. It’s time for it to go out into the world and find a home. Maybe a nice place in New York where it can make friends with other historical novels from its own time period, rather than the Civil War books it normally hangs out with at critique group meetings. I considered leaving it in a jute basket on the porch of some kindly agent, note taped to the handle, “Please take care of my baby.” But after checking with the latest Writer’s Market Guide to Agents, Editors and Other People Whose Opinions of Writing Count More Than Your Mother’s, I’ve learned that I must submit to the guidelines and follow directions. I should have learned at some point in my public school career that life smiles on those who follow directions. The WMGAEOPWOWCMTYM mentions that while agents may not necessarily smile simply because you read the guidelines, they most definitely frown upon too much creativity in the submission process.
Most of those directions require a chunk of pages, and The Synopsis. Chunk of pages, now problem, I just fire up the printer and it spews them out on crisp white paper. Funny, it won’t crank out the synopsis. Seems I have to write it first.
My entire household can tell it’s synopsis time. The floors are clean, the refrigerator is white inside and out, and the monthly bills are sorted by due date. Bedsheets are ironed. My anti-virus software is current, along with every other piece of shareware on my computer. But the bills, while organized, required actual funds to be paid. My career as an amateur novelist was in serious peril. I needed to sell some work, perhaps the novel, or I would be flipping burgers.
I called a meeting of our own House Ways and Means committee. That would be my husband, me and the dog, who slept through the whole meeting. Latest reports declared were were house rich and cash poor. We needed a Nuclear Option. So we took a deep breath and dialed Libby the Realtor. We put our house on the market. I had no clue that I could put off dealing with both the deficit and the synopsis with one phone call. It’s good to be an American.
Our house is \”unique\” in Realtor-ese. That means, the exact perfect people have to buy it or we will have the sign in our yard for a long time. It\’s been six months. Amazingly, my propensity to procrastinate is so powerful, I\’ve been able to postpone actually selling the house.
Selling our house is a procrastinator’s dream. Nothing of any consequence can occur, because if you go through all the trouble of taking a project out to work on it, everything must be stored away as soon as you are through. Someone may come to look at the house any minute. Floors must shine at all times. Guest towels hang in all the bathrooms. The inmates have been threatened with solitary confinement in the Laundry room with the dog and the guinea pigs if one drop of water is to touch said towels. Food and meals are tolerated. All crumbs are to be vacuumed as soon as they hit the carpet, if not before. My oldest son now turns on the Electrolux every time he eats.
The magic of the Nuclear Option is I now have an excuse. For anything.
To the collection agency: “As soon as the house sells, you’ll be paid in full.”
To the man selling satellite dishes: \”I\’m sorry, we\’re getting ready to move. Maybe at the new house.\”
To the friends who want me to help with some Bake Sale: \”I\’m sorry, but I couldn\’t possible mess the kitchen up. Libby the Realtor said she might bring someone by.\”
To the PTA president: \”I couldn\’t possibly chair that committee. We\’ll be moving soon and I\’m not sure we\’ll be able to stay in the district.\”
To the editor waiting for my latest article: \”Oops. Sprayed the computer monitor with too much Windex.\”
And since I’m so busy keeping the house in “show-able condition,” I certainly don’t have time for a silly little synopsis.
There are other bonuses. We eat out much more often, especially since home buyers like to look during the dinner hour, and we\’ve got to get out of the house anyway. The kids, bribed with rooms of their own, actually do make their beds in the morning. And with new home repair projects cropping up after each potential buyer rejects us, the to-do list is longer than a Clinton State of the Union address. I have enough projects to put off the synopsis until 2017.
If only the house doesn\’t sell until then.