Monday, September 5, 2011

Writers Conference

By Marjorie Hart

It was a rare opportunity for our writing group when the Del Mar Literary Writer's promised to critique our session one afternoon. At the appointed time, I eagerly handed my sample pages to the leader, who scanned them and sighed, "Two girls running off to the big city? Who the hell cares!"

I cared. I cared a lot.

For years, more than I like to admit, I had been writing one story, as boxes of rewrites accumulated, towering over my computer. My grandchildren in their compelling way had asked. How could I refuse? With my 80th birthday approaching, I engaged the writer, Beverly Trainer, who edited and encouraged me chapter by chapter. No matter what--I would finish.

Fortuitously while sorting and tossing Christmas mail, these words caught my eye: Writers Conference Editors Agents San Diego. Rescuing the brochure from the wastebasket my heartbeat raced when I found the deadline to submit ten pages and the choice of one of five New York editors. Whether it was fate, luck or divine intervention, Jennifer Pooley was my first choice, the editor who would change my life.

With permission, this is Jennifer Pooley's letter to booksellers:

Dear Bookseller,

On Friday January 27, 2006, I traveled to San Diego State University Writers Conference. Days before the conference began, I received sample pages from aspiring writers I would be meeting, and as my plane took off from New York, I dipped into one of the twenty-five manila folders, whose attached title was "Summer at Tiffany."

Reading the opening pages, I immediately felt that I was right there on the double-decker bus with Marjorie Hart and her best friend Marty: desperately hoping to get a job at Lord and Taylor; devastated when it looked like hope for a position as a shopgirl was lost; and nervously following Marty's charge through Tiffany's front door with my own timid steps. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be them. And I certainly wanted to know what happened next!

When we met at last, on Sunday morning, Marjorie shook her head in disbelief at my enthusiasm. She told me that she'd started writing her memoir in 1993, following her retirement, as her grandchildren kept asking to hear her Tiffany stories "just one more time." The promise of her true adventures in the big city working at one of the world's most iconic stores and interacting with individuals such as Old Man Tiffany and Judy Garland took my breath away.

Over the weeks that followed, Marjorie and I began speaking on the phone and by email daily; she shared her manuscript with me, chapter by chapter. No sooner would the next installment arrive than I would dash to the Xerox, preparing copies for my colleagues, who were as eager as I to read on.

The magical experience of working with Marjorie Hart on Summer at Tiffany is sure to be one of the most memorable of my career. Though the summer of 1945 is more than sixty years past, I hope that once you have finished Marjorie's story, regardless of your age, you too will feel as if you had come to New York City that fateful summer: breathlessly jitterbugging to the drumbeat of Gene Krupa; jubilantly celebrating VJ Day in Times Square; and unexpectedly making history-at Tiffany, no less!--with your best friend.

I am so grateful that Marjorie Hart came into my life, and without further ado, I am thrilled to be one to introduce you to her dazzling Summer at Tiffany.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Pooley
William Morrow/ Harper Collins Publishers

I treasure this extraordinary letter and mv never-ending friendship with Jennifer!

1 comments: said...

What an amazing letter to receive and an amazing experience you've had. I think so many of us writers get easily discouraged because we think our stories are nothing special. Or as the gentleman put it to you, "Who the hell cares?" And you are right -- WE care! What tremendous validation you must have felt. And congratulations to you for achieving your writing goal. This gives aspiring book-writers such as myself hope that we will be heard too. Thank you!

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