Thursday, August 11, 2011

Your agent, a writer's shiny coin

I was lying in bed (awake at some ridiculous hour because of invisible rag weed particles blowing through my open window and turning my nose into a faucet) and thinking that since I was already awake, and everyone else was still asleep, that it would be a great time to get up and write. So I came down to my office, read a million blog posts and emails, browsed Twitter, fed the cat, made tea, took an allergy pill then decided maybe I should write a blog post first.

Yes, I sometimes blog simply to procrastinate.

But this morning, while feeding the cat, I was thinking about what's different about writing this year vs. last year. Last year I was finishing up Ascendant and getting ready for my agent critique and pitch sessions at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference. Last year, I didn't have an agent.

This year, I do. But as I dumped the syrupy meat byproducts into my cat's dish, I realized there is nothing different between now and then when it comes to writing. I still have to find the time and motivation all by myself. I still have to force my brain to focus away from twitter's scrolling time line of instant gratification. I still have to sit alone in my office and actually DO the writing.

But here's what is different. Someone other than me, my husband and my mother believes in what I'm producing during all those hours alone. And, she believes in it enough to think she can sell it. She spent hours of her time, unpaid and with no guarantees, reading, making notes, rereading, making more notes because of the belief that, when we were done with revisions, she would find an editor who loves those 390 pages as much as she does.

That's what is different between writing and having an agent and all the years I spent writing before having her. There's still no guarantee the book will sell, right? I mean, even if she and I love it till the end of time that doesn't mean we aren't the only two people, besides my husband and mother, that will. But I'll say this, in case you're like me and didn't come ready equipped into this world with a storage house full of self assurance, having someone on the inside like what you're doing is like having a shiny coin in your pocket. Whenever you're sitting at you computer and having one of those, "I really suck at this," moments, you remember that coin in your pocket. You remember that Emma, who is not your mother, doesn't think you suck. And then you realize, while you're not there yet, you are closer than you were last year. And maybe it won't be this book, but it might be the next.

Because you are close. Or at least, closer.

But what if you don't have an agent yet? What did I do during those years of writing without some margin of professional assurance?

I had my critique partners. I attended conferences and met other writers. I read industry blogs and communicated through the comments. I connected as much as I could with that world I wanted to belong to. And let's not forget, I had my mother.

But I also wrote. Alone.

The same as I do now. The same as you do.  


  1. *sigh* Wonderful post. It is such a solitary experience listening to those voices in our heads and try to control them enough to get them on paper. I'm taking a couple of days off to work on a project for a critique session with professionals on Saturday, and I'm struggling with them. That's why I'm visiting you.

    I really need to focus! *beats head on desk*

  2. Ditto what Donna said. It feels so solitary and there's so much room for doubt. I can see how having an agent would just...make all those hard days a heck of a lot more manageable in terms of self-assurance. I was at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers last year too :)

  3. Donna, the days leading up to a professional critique can be so nerve wracking...hang in there. I was super nervous when I went to one with Laura Rennert from Andrea Brown last year at RMFW...but it ended up being a wonderful experience. Laura was super great AND I met some other, wonderful, writers.

    You'll do great! Now, get back to it!

  4. Jess, we were probably in some of the same classes! Are you going this year?

  5. Hey, I was at RMFW last year too. I was the one who got on stage and hugged Kristin Nelson when she called my name for the Fantasy Category of the writing contest. D'oh.

    I'm going this year too, still sans agent. Best of luck with your project and getting it sold!!

  6. L.G. I saw you! Small, small world. Are you going this year. If you and Jess and I all end up going, we should totally get together for drinks at the bar.

  7. It's awesome to have someone else believe in your work. Writing is solitary in that I have to write it, but it's so nice to be able to share and have people to talk to and to bounce things off of, especially when everything I've just written feel like a giant puddle of words. You know, those times when you're like "What is this I've written? Does it even make SENSE?"

    It's awesome that you have an agent to remind you of that. ^_^

    (P.S. I've given you an award on my blog, if you're interested. :))

  8. How wonderful to hear about your experiences, your a-ha moments, your perseverance. I love how you told us to remember the shiny coin in our pockets! Fantastic! Thanks, Becky.

    I love the new look of your blog and your photo is awesome!

  9. Laura, thanks for the blog award. Admittedly, I'm pretty awful about following through on these. Maybe I can hobble them together and just do a post on random things about me. Not that I don't appreciate people thinking of me, because I totally do. I just don't show it :-0

  10. Brenda, I am generally terrible at accepting compliments. Thank you! (it's so much easier online.)

  11. That's what I keep hearing. After an agent, after the book deal, after the launch, life goes on. Writing is almost the same. :)

  12. Very nice post... thx for sharing.

  13. Moms rock. I know mine has gotten me through a ton! I don't have an agent yet, but I know she will always love everything I write. :)

  14. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x