Today I lost another tennis match. That makes 4 out of 4. My winning percentage is currently 00.00%. Ugh. I do not have a steady partner. I am no longer with any of my teammates from my most successful (68.88%) season 2 years ago (granted, that was a lower level). It so happens, that while I am trying to win at tennis, I am also trying to sell a novel. Last week, I blind-queried an agent with my first 3 chapters, a synopsis, and a bio. Sent my materials USPS to NYC from LA – got a request for the manuscript 3 days later. I could call that a victory in itself, but it’s not. I tried enjoy the moment, like winning a game or even a point, like getting a ball back – I’m in play – I haven’t lost yet, which means I could still win the match.
One week later – yesterday – the agent passed. First, he told me my prose was “enchanting;” the book is one of “few [he] has read this year that is remarkable from beginning to end.” Then came the feedback (which truly, I am thankful for): it’s too bleak, the story isn’t tight enough, it’s too long. He will read it again if I revise, he wishes me luck…. In other words, another LOSS in the streak, even if it does feel like I made it to a third set.
Yes, my husband has a good job – win! My son hit a double with 2 RBIs, win! My daughter got a thumbs up from her Russian ballet teacher – win! (they’re hard to come by) Both kids love the school I helped found. Win! Win! What I need now, is a big win for just me. A paycheck. A credit. A trophy with my name on it.
When I got home from this tennis match within sight of the Pacific waves that I love so much, thinking as the fog lifted after we’d been creamed: there’s the big blue ocean, but right now I’m not feeling its love, I took a yellow legal pad and wrote a list of all the personal victories of my life. When I was 14 I starred in a 3 act ballet and it’s still a highlight and the truth is, that while I was dancing on that stage in Brooklyn, I remember thinking to myself: this is so wonderful, I hope it isn’t the peak. Now here it is on a hasty list of 40 victories, ranging from being admitted to my college of choice, to having my children after miscarriages, to getting the agent (who has since changed careers) who encouraged me to write the book which was just rejected. Yes, the fucking ballet made the list. So did Grease in 7th grade. (I was Frenchie) Anything that made me feel special and talented and like I deserved to be here, like I was worthy. A choice job in my 20s – list. Making a profit on a house – list. Because I wanted to drink champagne that day, because I deserved a toast.
Our tennis team now needs to stack. (Though when 4 out of 5 players have 0 wins, stacking is moot). We need to regroup. How, I wonder, can I do that in my life? I want to feel that feeling. It can’t come from my kids — though of course they are toast-worthy — their success is theirs. I have given the last 10 years of my life to raising them, to practically building our house (2 really), to enabling my husband to go get his own big wins, but it’s his name is on the check, on the trophy, on the guest list +1. Maybe I’m selfish and spoiled and should just be happy with life, since I know it could be much worse. It could. But fucking A. I have worked hard, practiced, studied and hit thousands of balls. According to the list I wrote today, it’s been awhile – I am due.