You've heard of the glass ceiling, right? Well in publishing-especially at conferences-there is the glass table. The one you don't get to sit at. The one where sparkeling, witty, and life-changing conversations must be going on. Or at least I imagine they must be going on. For most of the conference I sat with my posse, cutting up, telling highs and lows of the day, and hoping that before it was all over, I'd have met an editor or an agent. But throughout the days and nights, we all cast a curious glance at the tables where we longed to be. Inviting glances were never cast our way, nor was there the expectation they would be. These are closed tables, a refuge from the day's work. And can you blame them?
The editors agents and published writers are faculty, giving lectures, signing books, and having professional dialogues. And when they're eating, well...they're eating. Imagine if a very green writer crashed your table, asking questions that just a little research would answer, how would you feel? Still, the glass table stood just out of reach, tantalizingly real. All the more so because a place at the table has to be earned. Not just for the asking, but through the accomplishment of being published.
We were lucky enough to have editor Elizabeth Law of the forthcoming American launch of Egmont come visit our table. She was very friendly, talked a little shop, but mostly hung out. The house is obviously looking to expand submissions, but she could easily have relied on the normal submission process. Instead she came and put her feet up for a while. It was demystifying to have a visit from "the other side." She didn't levitate or quote Tolstoy or anything, and revealed that an editor can be just as easy to talk to as any other conference goer. If only writing like a published writer were as easy, we'd all be sitting at the glass table.