“I don’t want any padding,” I say.
He looks away. He looks back. “I’m sorry. What are you looking for again?”
I didn’t expect a male salesperson for this, but I tell myself that it is no big deal. I’m a modern girl. And if women can be police officers and CEOs then men can work at Victoria Secret. “I just wanted one without any padding.”
I’ve already committed the sin of being taller than him. Now I want to make his job difficult. “It’s just usually in that size they have have something added,” he says. “You sure you don’t even want a…I mean a lot of women your size like–”
“I know. I know. But I really don’t.” I don’t want to explain. I’m already too tall and too flat, which means most of the time people assume I’m smart even though I never had the grades to back that up. In most men’s eyes, height and flatness equal intelligence. And none of that together equals a date.
He has to search a while. He finds what I want in a bottom drawer. These are not on the racks. “You’re sure this is what you want?” he says. “We’ve got–”
“This is fine,” I say. I concentrate more than necessary on the price tag. “Thanks.” Someone can like me the way I am, I want to say. That’s got to be better than thinking I’m something I’m not only to be disappointed. “Here’s my credit card,” I say. He looks as if he wants to tell me something I don’t want to hear, but I make a show of rearranging the cards in my wallet.
Don’t chase a market trend. Teenage vampires might be hot right now, but not everybody likes vampires and who knows what people will stand in line for next year. But certain things about fiction seem eternal. Certain qualities make a story marketable. I vaguely know what they are. They involve some agent somewhere saying like, “People love this stuff.” or “This has a built in fan base.” or “I can already see the book group possibilities.”
I look at my work and think, “I’m not really sure I can dress this up and take it out. Hell, I don’t know where to even take it to.” I suspect I’ve not written anything that is going to catch an agent’s eye, but I can’t imagine writing anything else.
Do you feel that what you write is natural to you? Are you trying to shape your work to fit a market? Are you conventional, quirky, or experimental? What about your work do you think will get you noticed?