Wow! It’s Wednesday: A Molly Ringwald Ending (HUGE Update)

So I’ve some really good news and some potentially terrible news re: my novel, A Molly Ringwald Ending.

First the potentially terrible news: As many of you know, I’m a particularly bang-up title-chooser, but I must say that of all the titles I’ve ever made up, I liked this one the best. It evokes exactly what I want it to evoke, and almost guarantees a pick-up in the store if you’re a fan of her movies from the 80’s. Here’s how Davie, the book’s main character describes a Molly Ringwald ending.

“It’s a perfect ending. It’s when somehow, against all odds, people manage to surmount all issues of class, status, and personality to get together at the end of a story. It’s basically impossible. I’ve never seen that kind of ending happen in real life. I mean not ever.”

So great, we’ve got a title that’s both evocative and bittersweet, since the book happens to be about an extremely poor black girl from Mississippi.

annoyedOne problem: after consulting with a lawyer, we were told that the name Molly Ringwald isn’t fair use, so I definitely can’t use it in the title without the actual Molly Ringwald’s permission. So now, I have two alternatives:

1) Find Molly Ringwald and get her permission. If anyone has any suggestions on how to do this, I would be incredibly grateful. UPDATE: I should have said this before. We have her agent and manager info, but we’re seeking an alternative to cold calling them.


2) Come up with a new title as good or better than the original. Unfortunately, this is where my title muse abandons me. It’s been pouting b/c it prefers the first title it gave me and doesn’t see why it should have to come up with another. I’ve always adored my muse, b/c it’s practical happyand genderless and always there for me after I manage to wade through all the writing demons and actually start composing. However, we’ve hit a bit of a rough patch with this particular problem.

But there is a bright side to all of this aka The Good News:

The reason I had to consult with a lawyer about my title is because I’ve gotten an agent for my book!

Getting an agent turned out to be an interesting project, mostly because it reminded me of when I decided to get serious about finding a life partner.

First, of all, because I’m a black writer with a really original story and plot, my choices for agents that would represent my work was a lot more limited than if I was say, writing a straightforward, non-ethnic novel. So funnily enough, my agent pool matched my dating pool as a strange black nerd.

Second of all, I found agents to be a lot like boys. I liked one agent a lot, but she was sending me extremely mixed signals. I was never sure where I stood with her, and one of the lessons I had taken away from my Year of Dating A Lot was that this is never a good thing. If you’re having to read the tea leaves and analyze a guy to death, then it’s probably not going anywhere. Better to let him go.

Another agent was great, perfect. Like Brad Pitt in an indie film. He was appealing enough, but almost too laid-back. It took him a while to pick up my manuscript from the slush pile, then quite a while to read the partial, then a while to request the full. I would have been honored to be represented by an agent with an A-List name, but at the end of the day, I felt that he’d always be too busy with his more established writers to pay any real attention to me. Funnily enough, this is the same reason I chose the much smaller Smith over the more esteemed Cornell, when it came time to pick from the undergrads that had accepted me. I felt that I’d get lost at a university. I needed the intimacy of a college made up of less than 3000 women.

The Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, the one I eventually went with,  reminds of Smith, and even more so of CH. CH was clear with his intentions from the start. And although we are very different in many ways, I always felt that he was a good egg and not trying to take advantage of me or play games. He was also very focused on our budding relationship, and perhaps most importantly, was open and really easy to talk to.

So I don’t know how other people pick agents, but as soon as the one I chose expressed an interest, somehow I knew she was right for me. Though, I suspect that just like the Smith-Cornell choice, I will wonder for a while if I made the right decision. Should I have gone to a school with boys? Gotten  a more practical education that would have allowed me to work in the tech industry?

I look back on it now, and my answer is no. Every non-writing job I’ve held save teaching in Japan has been a waste of my creativity. And leaving a well-paying tech job would have been much harder than getting off the merry-go-round of unfulfilling, low-paying office jobs. So yes, I’m happy I went to Smith. Now.

But I had more than one sleepless night, wondering if that had been my first wrong turn in a series of bad life decisions before I got my first writing job.

And the publishing market is rather troubled right now. Who knows if any of them will be willing to take a chance on me. I’ve been hearing more and more stories about companies and government officials refusing to move on new projects or try new things or take even the smallest risk b/c of the uncertain economy. So I’m not getting my hopes up. Too much.

But at the end of (most) days, I know that everything will be all right. I’m often not happy that I couldn’t have been fulfilled as a scientist or techie, but as I get older, I’ve begun to accept that writing is my path.

And I’ll stay on it no matter what happens. Oh, and if all of this has made you curious about the book, read the first three chapters in the “lit n’ nerdy” section.