agents

BACK ON TRACK

A little over a month ago I sent out a pile of queries to agents.  Each of them suggested that I would hear if he/she were interested in EDITH, and that might take four or five weeks.  So far, I’ve received two written notices of disinterest, and ten silences. I’ve forgotten how benumbing this kind of waiting is. In the past month, I’ve read four novels, every page of Bon Appetit, several pages twice until I realized I was too enervated to cook more than frozen pasta. In the mass of incoming seasonal catalogs, I’ve found potential Christmas presents for all members of my family despite our agreement that we won’t give each other gifts anymore. I’ve watched stupid stuff on TV that sent me to my white wine bottle. Waiting.
And as of today it’s been five weeks. I’ve gained five pounds. My knees have begun to crackle from disuse.  I’ve run out of books on my Must Read list. I realize I have to make some kind of decision, get back on track. But which track? Writing? Marketing? A new round of agent searching? Volunteering at the kitchen for homeless men? Knitting that sweater I bought yarn for ten years ago? No, can’t do that; the moths got there before I did. What, then?
One of the advantages of being almost eighty is that one realizes nothing she decides at this point is forever. Maybe if she’s lucky, for five years. The track she chooses should be fulfilling, brain-joggling, easy on the knees, lined with friends and occasional laughs. It would be comforting to move along this track holding hands with folks she loves. 

And who love her–despite the fact that her novel can’t find an agent, that despite spending hundreds of dollars on publicity, her other novels have sold three copies this summer.
And maybe becauseof those facts, a grand daughter tells me I am a role model for her–I just keep writing, no matter what. 
A kind of legacy, I guess. Maybe better than a grandmother’s book on her shelf.
So I’m in the midst of deciding. Writing beats knitting a sweater that won’t fit even if I could salvage the wool; it beats standing in front of huge grill stirring green beans and onions; it beats eating myself into late onset diabetes; it beats allowing my brain to dissolve into mush at a much faster rate than it is going now.
Yes. From now on, I just won’t think about selling what I’m writing. What a concept!

One More Time. . .

            I’ve just finished a novel that I like a lot. Edith! Finished!

            This morning I found myself copying down information on fourteen agents who say they are looking for fiction.  Already. I have begun the mental process of composing the hook of the first line of the query letters I will send out. Edith, a disappointed old woman, doesn’t much care that her husband of forty-seven years is laying dead next to her.  Her mind is on the Christmas strata she’s to bake in an hour or so.  Too long? Too depressing?  Not appealing to anyone except maybe other cranky old women? Try again.
            This research, mulling, word crunching is not an unknown activity to me.  I’ve sent out hundreds of queries in the past.  And received hundreds of rejections which were stuck in a desk drawer until I realized how much negative energy I was absorbing from them, coupled with the anxious weeks of silence that followed my electronic submissions.  I’m not sure why I’m thinking of trying one more time to find an agent.  Perhaps I just need the ego-boost an acceptance would bring. Or perhaps I remember the several lonely year-long efforts I’ve plowed through to sell my books.  Or maybe I’m looking for a knowledgeable hired hand who knows how to find the best publisher for Edith.  And once found, it’s possible I would benefit from the publisher’s experts in the design process, in the distribution to bookstores and airport terminals, and even in getting of a newspaper review or two. 
            All these reasons for sending out query letters ring true as I evaluate them, but one more thought keeps rising unbidden to the surface.  “Yes,” I would really like to say. “Yes, I have an agent–she’s terrific!” when friends and fellow writers ask.  I know, this is shallow, very shallow, but that is where I am right now, as I shuffle through Agent Query one more time. 
            But I do wonder.  Am I alone in this compulsion?  Do any of my other writing acquaintances, mostly self-published like me, ever spend a day wondering what it would be like to have a sympathetic partner, an agent, in this process? If so, what have they done about it?  Did they find one? Or did they come to their senses and return to the realities of indie publishing?  Will I?

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