First, took the girls to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie yesterday, and it was a hoot! I was glad I'd read the first half of the book aloud at bedtime with them before going. It helped me be ready for the jokes.
It's also had the added benefit of keeping me from getting the "cheese touch" at the playground lo these many weeks. (Note to reading Moms: crossing your fingers on both hands grants you immunity.)
So what's all this about pressure? Well, it's tough, I tell ya. Waiting to hear back from favorite agents, waiting to hear back on queries that are lurking out there in the far silent reaches of queryville... It's pretty easy to become self-absorbed.
But an interesting, very recent turn of events got me to thinking about life on the other side of the wall.
I know, I'm making you guys gag, but I have a tendency to try and get into the head of the "other guy" in situations like these. I try to imagine what could be going on in his/her brain and why she is (or in this case isn't) doing what I think she ought to be doing. (Like going crazy over Debut Novel!)
It just so happens there's a particular agency out there that has represented just about every book I've ever loved. OK, that's a grand, sweeping statement that isn't entirely true. But they've handled a lot of them.
And in my little pea brain way back last year, I thought it would be just amazing to have my book in there with all those other ones I loved. So before I'd even finished writing Debut Novel, I shot a query to one of their junior agents.
Did I mention I've learned all about *breaking* into publishing by being the proverbial bull in the china closet?
Well, at the top of all Agency No-No lists is this (it's usually like #1 or #2): Never, NEVER query an agent until your novel's finished.
I learned the Why behind that rule as I actually finished Debut Novel and saw how it changed and evolved as I wrote it. I told Richard, if anything, the experience of writing an entire book really stretched me as a writer who's accustomed to doing quick, in and out news stories.
I learned how books can take off as you write them and head down different paths than you expected. Things you weren't really paying attention to before can become very important, and characters you thought were going to be minor can become major.
It's a lot of fun! It also makes going back and re-reading a few weeks after finishing super important.
So too bad for inexperienced me, junior agent at Dream Agency kicked my little query to the curb. I'd violated Rule #1 (sometimes #2 behind "spell agent's name correctly.") No hard feelings; his assistant was super nice about it.
I tucked my little devastated tail and kept writing. Also, most importantly, I kept researching. And I discovered another potential agent at Dream Agency who might, might be interested in my novel. (However, I'd also learned at this point to finish the dang thing before querying again.)
So I wrote wrote wrote, and kept my eye on second Ms. Junior Agent. But as I watched, I noted an interesting evolution in the tone of her advice to potential queriers.
When I found her in, let's say November, (OK, it was October, but I was eager!), she was very happy, "I love agenting. I'm seeking that novel I can't put down." To queriers, she wanted to see a personalized query letter and the first ten pages of the book.
Then I found an interview with her in January in which she lamented the staggering number of queries she was receiving (as many as 200/wk), and noted that maybe one day she'd have an assistant.
By late-February, her requirements had dropped to query letter, first page of your book.
And there was a definite tone.
I still had my eye on Ms. Junior Agent, but I waited. I had just sent out a batch of queries, and the rule is to wait several weeks and give folks time to get back to you.
That part's extremely hard. Especially when you read interviews in which agents say they "get back quickly" when they're interested. It's also hard when you have those agencies who say you won't hear back if they aren't interested. (Who's holding the clock?)
And then there's the agent who Tweets the following: "Everyone who queried me before Feb. 8, if you haven't heard back from me, consider yourself rejected."
That agent needs to have her portrait made into a dart board.
So on Friday, after refreshing the Gmail for the 5,000th time, I wandered over to see what Ms. Junior Agent was up to and found a strange notice. She had quit Dream Agency and seemed to have gone "off the radar."
It was odd. I felt like I knew her after reading all the interviews, planning my letter that would be personalized just for her and even going back and forth on whether my half-page Prologue should be included with my query now that she was down to "first page only" status.
The wheels in my little imaginative writer's brain were nudged into motion. What could have happened? Did she become so disillusioned that she ran screaming from the building? Maybe she stormed out one day amid a cyclone of unpersonalized query letters and first pages of manuscripts that did not fall into her stated preferences.
Maybe she looked at the sea of 200+ queries coming in week after week embodying the dreams of all those aspiring novelists and the mountain became too much for Mohammed. Maybe she just got sick of waiting on that assistant.
I like to imagine my query might've given her hope. (Eh, who knows.)
Perhaps she could be a character in New Novel. Something like the disillusioned junior agent who meets the singing goose artist who refuses to allow post-production to take place on her bare-bones recorded tracks.
They leave their fields of choice to go off in search of adventure and perhaps even to save the world. Maybe they fight crimes.
Anyway, it was interesting to me as I continue waiting. I realized there just might be pressure on both sides of this wall.