As an editor at Vintage I read hundreds of manuscripts each year. For those manuscripts I buy and publish, this is the beginning of a relationship with the author, often a relationship with a side of friendship—dinners and long email chains, private jokes and phone calls. For those manuscripts I reject, that’s typically the end of the story. I assume the agent shares my letter with the author, crosses me off a list, maybe makes a voodoo doll, and moves on.
But Mary Lowry just wasn’t ready to move on. Several years ago an agent sent me her novel about a female firefighter. I liked it a lot, but thought the structure was all wrong, so I wrote a friendly “pass.” Two years later, Mary was back. Her agent was gone, but Mary had rewritten the entire manuscript in the first person—my suggestion. It was good. Really good. But still not quite there. I gave her my reasons for passing again and she went away. For a while. Then one day I got a funny piece of mail from Mary. She sent me the lyrics to a country song she had written, titled “Jenny Jackson Won’t You Change Your Mind.” I laughed for about a week and pinned the lyrics to my door. Soon Mary and I were email buddies. We both run, we like similar music, we recommend books. When she comes to New York we get coffee and hang out. In the past year she’s had a few strokes of luck with her book. She has a new agent (one of the best in the business), she sold the film rights, and is now working on the screenplay.
Yesterday I got another piece of mail from Mary. It was a CD. I put it on and listened and soon I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Mary went to the studio and recorded our song. Here it is: Jenny Jackson, Won’t You Change Your Mind?.mp3. The final lyrics read like this:
Jenny Jackson can’t be my editor
And that’s why I’m so blue
Mary, I may not be your editor, but I sure am lucky to be your friend.
*Jenny Jackson is a Senior Editor at Vintage Books, and to her knowledge this is the first song that’s been written about her.*
–full lyrics and song after the jump–