As many of you may (or may not) know, for the past two years, I’ve been working on a manuscript about songwriters in Nashville. It started out as a thesis for my MFA program, but since I graduated I’ve been thinking of it more along professional lines. I haven’t mentioned it here because I tend to be fairly quiet about such things, and because it makes me nervous.

The inevitable rejections a writer faces privately are tough enough, so you’ll rarely hear me or any other prudent writer I know touting the fact that she has just sent out seventeen book proposals to agents. The truth is that I tend to be pretty hesitant to send anything out (nothing’s ever perfect, you know) – which means that I’m often spared rejection, but also sparsely published. But, this summer, at the urging of a persistent advisor, I wrote a book proposal for Bluebird (see Jupe’s awesome book covers!) and sent it to one agent.

I got an email from him the day the FedEx hit his office in NYC. He asked me for three weeks’ exclusivity (pretty normal, from what I understand), to which I happily agreed. After his deadline was up, JW called me and asked me on what I imagine as the literary world’s equivalent of a second date. He said he liked my writing and that he liked the manuscript’s subject, but that he wanted to see a different chapter excerpt – preferably something more character based.

Now, because I was so sure that JW was simply going to send me a letter that said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” that he asked me out on a second date felt nothing short of miraculous. But, as second dates go, anxiety and intimidation set in; I realized that to give JW what he really wanted meant having to rethink the structure of the whole manuscript – 225 pages of which I meticulously stitched together over the course of my two-year graduate program. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I believe that taking the whole darn thing apart is the right thing to do. But I have been stalling, unsure of how to proceed.

This week, however, I gave myself an October 1 deadline. Whether JW wants the second date by then or not – he said there was no rush – he’s getting it. Otherwise, Bluebird will never be heard from again.

Now – I’d like to ask a favor of you. I’m curious to see if any of you would read the attached document (lorna-revised.doc, below) and tell me – honestly – if you’re intrigued. I need this thing to jump right off the page; I need you to be hungry for more of the story. If it doesn’t, and you can’t get past page two, please tell me. Thanks!


2 thoughts on “Curious

  1. Towles,
    I just read your manuscript and certainly want to know more. Are you planning on doing a compliation of multiple writers? Where did you get the idea from? Do you have an interest in music writing? I think you should write some country songs for Lorna to publish in the book as well!


  2. Thanks for reading this Mary Stuart! I got the idea because I went to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and fell in love with it. The passion of songwriters is so admirable, and as a writer I was really motivated by their creativity and determination.

    Right now, my manuscript is thematically structured, meaning that the thread that holds multiple vignettes together is the idea of song being a really sacred thing, despite the twists and turns of the country music industry and Nashville’s “new music” mentality, specifically.

    Lorna’s my main character, but there are other songwriters and industry folks that come in and out of the narrative. I love writing about music – and the arts, in general – but I don’t want to limit myself to that, so I guess I’m more of a generalist. Mostly, I’m interested in learning about what motivates people, why they do what they do, how they choose to spend their time and why various things are important to them.


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