I had smoked fifteen cigarettes in the span of an hour and chased them back with 3 cups of coffee. My breath smelled like a dirty lung at a coffee shop. Nerves were taking over and turning me into a jittery sketchy freak.
FINALLY the phone rang.
“Selina? Hi it’s Robert Morton. Thanks for letting me call you back, those damn distributors think they’re God’s gift to publishing.”
“he he” (awkward laugh)
“So listen. We think you’ve got something here. We really like your style…”
“…but” (I could feel that big hairy lipo but in there)
“But… we need you to tone down on the sex, drugs and swearing.”
“Huh… I see.”
“It’s not that we don’t appreciate the humor in it or are shying away from being risque, we just feel that it’s a bit much you know with the “cocks” and heroin orgies and all.”
All the blood was rushing to my head, I started to feel dizzy and sick and my breathing became irregular. I felt like I was going to explode into a jaw-dropping ass kicking frenzy through the tiny little holes on his end of the receiver. I envisioned my rage seeping out of those little holes like trickles of water and morphing into strangulation. I tried to hold back and not say something I would regret (which I often do).
My teeth began grinding together and my voice became jittery as I said “sooooo you don’t want me to be me then?”
Robert laughed and casually tried to re-state their request “As I said, we dig your style, we just need to bring it down a few notches.”
“Well Robert I’m sorry to tell you this, but there’s no volume on my dial. It’s loud and it’s always loud. If you want elevator music you’ve come to the wrong person. I can’t write boring safe politically correct shit, it’s not me… and if i want to use the word COCK I should be able to without fear of offending someone! Someone uncomfortable with sex, drugs and swear words probably wouldn’t be reading my shit anyway Robert, they’d probably be over checking out Margaret Atwood books or something.”
“Look, I really want to help you Selina, but the reality is… I can’t, unless you can rework this into something a little more commercial and salable.”
This was the moment I had waited all my life to have… This very opportunity. A real live publisher willing to buy my book and help me market it and get it into book stores… But the principle loving, pride boasting bitch in me… just couldn’t let it go.
I bit my lip harder than I normally do when I can’t spit something out and said “I can’t Robert. This is me, take it or leave it. I have to be me.”
“Sorry Selina. It’s really a shame. Listen if you change your mind or want to run any other ideas by me, give me a call okay. All the best!”
That night I drank myself into a silly oblivion of single malt scotch and Grey Goose… Not a harmonious duo I might add… I ripped pages and pages out of my writing books and burned them in a large sauce pan in my living room while I cried.
To make matters worse, I ran out of cigarettes and had to show up at my neighbours house with Tammy Faye Baker eyes and scotch breath as I managed to slur out an arrogant request for some cigs.
She looked at me and knew instantly “Oh Selina. It got rejected didn’t it?”
I snatched the cigs out of her hand as I walked away and said “No it didn’t… But I did.”