Melanie Lentz

Former U.S. Secret Service Special Agent - Writer - Speaker - Lady

I AM an Author...Right?

I AM an Author…Right?

*Disclaimer: This isn’t a polished blog post. Trolls, spare me your late-night emails about typos.*

I’m just going to keep this real from the beginning: I’ve been pretty down lately.

My life is definitely NOT going as planned, and I find myself regularly questioning whether I’ve made the right choices in recent months and years. I left Los Angeles in June 2017, the place I called home, completely sure leaving was the right move for me. Trust me. I fought that feeling for a while. My life had been through enough crazy changes already. Why couldn’t geography be the one thing that stayed the same? Right after the divorce, my job situation changed abruptly, leaving me in a position I promised I’d never walk into again. Another human being – like upper management in Washington D.C. – would never have that much power over my future and my life.

I’m taking control, I said at the time.

Regardless of upper management, I knew I was making the right decision to leave that six-figure job and start over. I set out to write a book, the first one by a modern-day female Secret Service agent. I thought that was what I was supposed to do.

I’ve been operating under the assumption that my dream of becoming a legitimate author has fallen apart. Maybe it’s because I’m freezing my butt off in the Midwest waiting for the next literary agent to pass on my manuscript (or ignore my queries altogether) because the book is not the typical Secret Service tell-all. In not so many words, the traditional publishing world has been sending me a very negative message: no one cares what you have to say unless you’re going to say something scandalous about someone we deem to matter more than you.

Publishers want to make money. I get it. I’m not playing the victim here. Business is business. And scandal, unfortunately, sells much quicker than authenticity. I’ve been told several times that my writing is good, but my book is not juicy enough. I’ve been told to change the title and make the book more of a MeToo piece because surely my time as a female in a male-dominated workplace was fraught with sexual harassment (or so they assume without ever asking).

Some may say I don’t take rejection well, that I’m a perfectionist who is haunted by the fact that I failed at marriage and my old life, and now I perceive myself as failing as a writer, the one thing I always wanted to be.

It’s true. I didn’t handle a lot of my problems well. I’m adept at the art of suppression, isolation, and the ever-so-toxic skill of minimizing what I feel. I want to have everything figured out, but I don’t.

Sadly, I’ve had more bad days than good days lately because I’m choosing to only listen to the negativity and rejection.

I’m quick to say we can’t accomplish anything truly significant without getting outside our comfort zones. I have made life-altering decision after life-altering decision in the past couple years, hoping to get out of my rut and become a better woman despite the tough times. I truly want to be better.

But if I’m being real, deep down I also selfishly want to matter as a writer. I struggle with the pressure to write what publishers say people allegedly want to read. What I’ve written about in Agent Innocent is the tough life lessons I took away from my time as a female Secret Service agent.

Maybe it’s egotistical to think my life is worth reading about. Who cares, really?

I’ve written a book that does not paint me in a very positive light, and I paid dearly for the lifestyle choices I made in early adulthood. I set out to write the hard “stuff” because, even though my story is uniquely my own, I hope it prompts others to evaluate their own lives and maybe recognize certain aspects that need adjustments. Self-protection, in my case, had to trump the Secret Service’s protective mission when everything around me fell apart. I couldn’t stay or I’d continue to self-destruct.

Isn’t that a better message than a scandalous tell-all?

All this being said (or written), I’m making the difficult choice to self-publish Agent Innocent.

I’ve gone back and forth with this choice, wondering if I’m giving up by doing so or if I’m actually refusing to silence myself because I’m not scandalous enough for a big-time publishing house. Outside of pitching this book, the response to Agent Innocent and my message has been mostly positive.

I know I needed to write Agent Innocent even if no one ever reads it. Maybe that’s what makes it better. It’s raw, real, and uncensored. It doesn’t have to be a tell-all about a shady politician to be relevant. I know this deep down. I’m having a hard time getting it to sink in some days.

If all goes well, Agent Innocent will be published by the end of 2019. I will post updates about pre-orders, etc. if/when that information is available.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on myself, my attitude, and trying to find ways to be excited about the future rather than continue to only see the negative. It’s time for me to refocus on what really matters, and I’ve found myself getting away from that lately.

Thank you to everyone who has loved and supported me despite those times when my self-absorbed defeatism has overpowered my abilities to be a good friend and family member. I truly have an enviable support system. I hope you all know how much I love you.

-      Mel