First, a few administrative notes:
–> The final episode of Minor Revisions airs this Thursday (Feb. 7) at 9 PM ET / 8 PM CT. For those of you who missed it, Episode 2 will air an hour earlier, at 8 PM ET. You can watch it all live right here on the NET website.
–> I’ll be live-tweeting it with the #MinorRevisions hashtag.
Now, the important stuff:
Soooooo, I have not seen this episode, but I know what’s in it. And I am mildly nervous about it. (If by “mildly” you mean “EXTREMELY”.) Here’s the backstory:
The timing just happened to work out that I had some serious book drama coming down the pike, which was going to come to a head exactly around the time the film crew was scheduled to be here.
After almost five years of toil, I felt like I was done with this book. Done. I had rewritten it three times, revised the last draft countless more times. I went through the grueling process of getting hard feedback from my agent, Ted. Then I got more feedback from Joe, whose idea of sugar-coating constructive criticism is to say that while that one chapter was indeed the most boring thing he’d ever read, there may be more boring writing that exists in the history of the written word that he has not yet encountered. Then, after all that, per Ted’s advice, I had five people who don’t know me well read it and give me feedback, so that I could “see” it from an outsider’s perspective. It was indeed an illuminating exercise, and it’s only left me with mild Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. All of that feedback led to weeks and weeks of more grueling revisions.
All of this toil was to meet one goal: To get this book to a level of quality equivalent of the big secular memoirs. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I would publish with a secular publisher or expect it to sell like a mainstream memoir, but the level of quality had to be there. That’s the only kind of book Ted represents. He does not typically handle religious books (in fact, I’m not sure if he ever has), and so I was held to the same standard as the writers he represents who are trying to break in to the extremely competitive general audience market.
In early September, after all the
soul-crushing will-to-live-obliterating helpful rounds of feedback, the final draft was finished. And I intended for this one to be final. It’s not just that I was tired of working on it, but I really thought that this one was there. All the previous rounds of edits had been helpful, but now I was certain that I had reached the point of diminishing returns: I had done everything I could do to make this story shine, I had maxed out my skills as a writer, and any further edits would not add value.
I sent the manuscript to Ted, and told him that this was it for me. This was my final offer. If he still did not think it was there, then he certainly did not have to represent it, but I could not do another round of revisions.
We scheduled a phone meeting for three weeks later, when the film crews would be here. What was at stake was not just whether I’d still have a literary agent, but whether the book had reached that level of quality that we’d been trying to get to for years. Had we managed to take a book that started out okay, and make it great?
On the last day of the shoot, at the end of the afternoon, after a grueling 17 hours of filming the day before, he gave me his answer. And, to my profound embarrassment, I started crying. I mean, really lost it. (And if anyone suspects that I forced the tears to make the show more interesting, just watch it. I assure you that no self-respecting woman would intentionally break down into blubbering ogre-sobs like that with a camera pointed at her face.)
So. Like I said. I’m nervous about this episode.
But my nervousness is somewhat counterbalanced by the awesomeness of this:
(If you don’t get it, see the scene starting at 2 min. 30 sec. in this episode.)
I am going to give away one of these mugs to a randomly-selected person who tweets with the #MinorRevisions hashtag while the show airs!
I know. You’re so excited that you’re starting to hyperventilate. So you might want to take a moment to collect yourself before I tell you: This mug contains original artwork by the artist Joe Fulwiler. He mainly works in Excel, so this is an exciting opportunity to own one of his pieces that was created in PowerPoint.
Because I care about you, I will not withhold from you the correspondence he had with Brandon Vogt after we sent him one of these mugs. Brandon is a man who appreciates artistic genius when he sees it:
FROM: Brandon Vogt
TO: Joe Fulwiler
If you’re willing to drop the whole law gig, the Powerpoint art market is wayyyyy more promising. Honestly, how many others do you know in the field? Plus the talent is clearly there. Your pony mug screams “Van Goh.” And its elegant medieval seriph left me saying, “Thomas Aquinas, who?”
So when “Fulwiler Mugs & More” goes live, rest assured: I’ll be ordering the first case.
FROM: Joe Fulwiler
TO: Brandon Vogt
You are not the first to approach me in this manner. However, my art is too pure. I can not sell out. So, I will have to while away the rest of my life in the coal mines of the law, knowing all along that the world will never know my PowerPoint genius. It is painful, but such is art.
FROM: Brandon Vogt
TO: Joe Fulwiler
Sigh. The world is not worthy of such purity, untarnished by the allure of Powerpoint fame. You could have cemented your name among the greats: Van Goh with his brush, Michelangelo with his chisel, Shakespeare with his pen, and Fulwiler with his soul-stirring clipart. Yet you’ve forsaken all riches and fame for the sake of the craft.
Dragons aren’t the only things which Fulwiler love has fell.
Vain artistry has died this day, too.
So there you have it: drama, embarrassment, and a giveaway of a limited edition piece of art by a true artist. I’ll see you Thursday!