Please know I appreciate your patience and understanding, and that I love you.

Sent: Saturday, 11:07 PM

Dear Jessica Vale,

In my recent email to you requesting representation for my literary novel Letters Lost, I neglected to include my telephone number. I apologize for the oversight. You’ll find the number in my signature below.

I hope this minor error won’t tarnish your opion of my sample or give you the impression that I’m careless about my work.

Jessica Smith
(212) 555–8871

Sent: Saturday, 11:11 PM

Dear Jessica,

I apologize for having sent you another imperfect email. …

We really do want to know, and we want to publish it in The 2020 Newsletter.

How this started:

My former MFA professor, author Alan Davis, and I have stayed in touch since the early 2000s when I was his student in a Minnesota university MFA program.

In December of 2020, we had an exchange of holiday newsletters (which are just like the regular newsletters you subscribe to, but they appear less frequently in your inbox. And you don’t subscribe to them. They just…show up).

After reading Davis’s letter and then responding with my own, I couldn’t help but wonder…

This Is Us

Despite well-intentioned urging from others, you’re the only one who can say when the time is right

Two swings tangled together.
Two swings tangled together.

As young as five years old, I understood without real understanding that when I grew into a woman I would someday, inevitably, become a mother.

As a little girl, I semi-regularly played the game of House with a friend who lived in the next apartment building, and we’d choose our roles before each game: Husband or Wife. We took for granted that choosing Wife also meant playing the role of a mother.

We believed this because we watched as much TV as any kids in the late ’70s, and studies show TV programming has a long and largely unchanged history…

RJ Keller and I have known each other virtually for over a decade. Sometime around 2008–’09, she, authors Henry Baum, Eddie Wright, and I created an indie author collective called Backword Books (yes, that’s spelled correctly) whose goal was to deliver and market quality fiction written by those in the collective.

Waiting for Spring was RJ Keller’s gritty, beautiful novel, initially self-published but later acquired by Lake Union Publishing.

I'm happy that a) your friend knows you so well, and b) the piece amused you!

Thank you, Hapsari! I really wonder how often this (or something remotely like it) happens to agents...

Two days ago, I was looking at my Facebook profile picture very, very closely.

Someone I’d known in high school had left this comment below the picture: “Seeing those eyes again after 30 years…”

I wondered, why mention “eyes” and not “face”? Were they trying to be nice by not mentioning how much my face had changed? Did I look so different? And who do I think I’m kidding right now by using the word “different?”

You know what I mean.


Just bad, full stop.

Because “older.”

Older is bad.

We need no more evidence of this than Twitter’s…

Parents, in everyday life, often think childfree people have it easy. “You’re ‘tired’? You don’t know what ‘tired’ is,” they’ll say, for example.

The holidays are no different.

This season, especially, with COVID and elections and fraudulent fraud, we all have our unique challenges, many of which come with living the lives we’ve chosen.

I know we the childfree have ours, just as parents do.

In fact, and this may be surprising to some, parents actually have it a lot easier than we do, so it can make us feel unseen or misunderstood when they make assumptions about how “easy”…

Kristen Tsetsi

Novelist, THE AGE OF THE CHILD & others. Former adjunct prof, journo, cab driver, etc. Co-host, ChildfreeGirls podcast.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store