A long time ago, while I was married to my first husband, Ernest Coates, I mixed up being married to a writer with being a writer myself. Ernest churned out thousands of pages of writing but never got around to submitting them anywhere, while I supported the family. Not a good plan, and for that and other reasons we divorced.
I was resentful of all the years spent typing his manuscripts, and thought to myself, “I can write a book.” So I sat down and wrote one.
On the bus one day I met a friend who had just had a book about a disabled skier published, and her agent was Marilyn Marlowe, the Executive Vice President of Curtis Brown. She gave me Ms. Marlowe’s information and I sent off my book to her. That was in 1983.
Below is her response to me. She read my book! Wow! She didn’t take me on as a client, but she thought I wrote “very well indeed, with unusual sensitivity.” She thought the book was “good enough, however, that I do think you should get some other opinions.”
After that, I sent her everything I wrote, she read it, didn’t take me on, but gave me comments and encouragement. By the time I had written something that was worth her attention, she had died, and I was so sad.
The funny thing about this is that Ms. Marlowe represented authors of children’s books. I don’t know why she bothered reading mine, but without her encouragement, my writing might have been a resentful flash in the pan.
I keep her letter in my drawer at all times, and every once in a while I take it out and look at it, and bless this person whom I never met. She continues to be a turning point in my life every time I look at her letter.