A significant part of my own deal is that for so long I just never really knew how smart I was. I always believed myself to have a certain type of city smarts, people smarts, but I wasn’t a great student, and for various reasons it didn’t occur to me that I could be a better one. That my parents had been straight-A students with multiple graduate degrees between them was relevant only to highlight what an intellectual failure I was. And so if I was paid mind by people I considered smart, I was less likely to think it mirrored my own intelligence in any way than I was to question why they were even hanging around me. The scraps of fuel for my self-esteem I’d get from these relationships was a sine wave of maybe I am bright peaks and I’m such an idiot valleys. It may be illuminating that when I got my first agent, my stepfather congratulated me, hung up, and called me back the next day to let me know he’d made some calls and learned that I’d chosen well. When I got my first book deal, his response was, “That’s wonderful, sweetheart, now listen, you need to fix yourself up a little.” That his style and agenting advice would not have been welcome upon hearing the best news that had ever happened to me even had he been in the literary field, was neither here nor there to him. He knew best.

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