Thoughts On The Agent Search

There was a time when I had someone (an abuser) accusing me of lying constantly, of thinking things I didn’t think, and so on. In that time, I felt like there was two people living inside me. The person doing all the things that person was projecting onto me, and myself.

I don’t know if it’s just normal, or if that split just stayed with me, but I feel it again. Like there’s two people living inside my body. The first is the one who’s worked on honing her writing craft for the last sixteen years, has gotten to the point where she knows she’s got something good to show for it, and deserves to make it.

And the second is a weepy thing who’s no better than anyone else, and why should she get to live her dream when so many around her still struggle? Why do I deserve to succeed?

Sometimes it’s hard to remind myself of all the hard work I’ve done on this. Thank the gods, I have my husband, who’s seen at least nine years of it. He reminds me.

I’m not sure how much I should say about the status of my manuscript. I’ve gotten past the query stage. I have nothing to announce yet, but I know this manuscript is the best I’ve sent out, and it’s worthy. I think I’ve had publishable novels that I’ve sent out in the past, but while I think they were good enough to be published, they weren’t as good as this one. No one who’s read the manuscript disagrees. I’m confident. I feel like…

Okay, here’s the metaphor I used describing it to my husband: it feels like stall practice. Not so much like being on the takeoff roll – there, you hit takeoff speed, you pull back on the control stick, and the plane lifts off, right there, the moment you  give her her head.

No, you don’t have that kind of control here. It’s more like stall practice. That moment when you’ve got the airspeed down near stalling, and the stall horn is blaring. That moment before the stall, just waiting for the nose to drop….


11 responses to “Thoughts On The Agent Search

  1. The most bizarre ads show up on here at the bottom of your blog. “Just waiting for the nose to drop… 5 child stars gone bad… Over 40? You’re a risk of a heart attack! Take the… Motherboard: the DIY Cyborg(which sounds like a great name for a novel)… Daily Mediation: Waking Up” The effect is… surreal… I feel kind of artistically inspired… Also, what does a stall horn sound like?

    • Josh has got your stall horn there. In real life it sounds a bit less like a beep and more like an annoying wail, like a child imitating an old style washer/dryer buzzer. Remind me the next time we’re flying, I’ll show you what it sounds like 😛

      It’s amusing that you ask that though – it was one of my first questions. It seems like an important thing to know, right? I got an answer like it was a question every student asks, not to worry, that I’d hear it. At which point I was wondering if it was just an assumption that I was going to make the stall horn go off out of noobery, because it didn’t occur to me that we were going to be stalling the plane deliberately.

      • Don’t forget the “Bitchin Betty” or “Barking Bob.” I understand the need for it, but you also have to laugh at it stating the obvious.

        “Terrain ahead! Pull up!” As you’re struggling to regain control of the aircraft and have a catastrophic crash. lol

  2. It seems you’re somewhat beset by what some call ‘The Culture of Cringe’, the belief that we should always be ready to apologize for our very existence. Cringe culture may be even stronger among writers, amplified by the ever-popular ‘Zero Sum Gain’ theory which preaches that nobody can succeed except at the expense of another.

    Your ‘weepy thing’ sounds like one of the Inner Critic’s many disguises. She’ll just have to shut up and take a back seat if she won’t bail out.

    • The sticks with which I beat my inner critic grow larger each day 😀

      But you’re totally right about the need to justify our existence. My generation especially, because we’re the “lost generation” who don’t have jobs, are barely getting by, get told by our parents generation that we just don’t work hard enough, when statistically, we’re working harder than they did and making less.

      My inner monologue for much of my life has been “I know I can be awesome, if only the world would give me a chance and let me show them what I can do.” Which is why I poured a lot of energy into writing – on top of being something I loved, it was something I could do that didn’t cost anything, and no one could stop me from doing it. I could practice and get good in the privacy of my own home. Art too – I can draw pretty decently well, but I don’t love it like I do writing. It was just a thing I could do, that I didn’t need anyone’s permission to practice, and even more so than writing, it was something I could put in front of people and go “See? I’m good huh?” Or in other words, “See? I deserve to exist, right?”

      I think the constant disapproval, and inability to get some kind of validation for their existence is contributing to youth delinquency, and the difficulty in rehabilitating them. The only defense is for them to stop caring what the world thinks, and when that happens, there’s nothing but selfishness and self destruction left, because no one has given them the strength within themselves to grant themselves their own validation.

  3. I think it all sounds completely normal to me Lindsay. As writers our psychology is forced to accept the brutally binary nature of querying. The agent accepts your MSS or they don’t. The publisher says yes, or no.

    I think for newbie writers, there’s a flurry of work that yields something that they think (secretly) is a masterpiece. They send it off, and it’s their baby, their investment, their heart and soul. And it gets rejected. That’s the point when a bunch of people bail out and go and do something more sensible than put themselves through it all again.

    Then there’s those of us (you, me, the other people with this condition) who just keep coming back for more. It’s painfully slow but over time we get better at the craft. And I think what happens is that, strangely, our opinion of our work might actually come down from a completely subjective sense of brilliance to a much more objective and realistic assessment of our own competence.

    For me it’s like trying to fire a missle over a very high wall, you don’t know how high the wall is, you just know that the mechanim you use to fire the missile is getting gradually more powerful.

    Then you get clues, hints from the real world that what you are writing is something people might spend their precious time reading. And with these clues you recalibrate the probability of success. But the thing is, your chance of success might change from 1% to 25%, say, or even 40-50%, but it’s still a binary outcome, your stuff gets accepted or it doesn’t.

    The only antidote to this I know of it for us to keep reminding ourselves that our worth as human beings is not the same as the worth of our work. It helps to have people close by who love us.

    This is palliative care though of course, we can’t help but come back for more…


    • yeah – I once read a quote: “Anyone who can be deterred from writing, should be.” And I wholeheartedly agree. There’s so many people and blogs out there going “Don’t give up, keep trying, you’ll make it if you just keep at it,” etc. I don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment, because the reality is that not every writer has what it takes, and not every writer will make it. If one can find fulfillment elsewhere, it may be better.

      The “Keep at it, never give up” cheer-leading is kind of like if the small town girl who moves to Hollywood to become a movie star had an whole section of the internet dedicated to encouraging her to throw everything she has at an all but unattainable dream. I think writers like to think it’s not the same because it’s not about looks and vanity, and literature is more respected than acting or modelling, or being a rock star, but it really is the same. Similar odds. Granted, you don’t age out of writing as quickly, so the odds go up since you could be 80 and still have hope of publishing your first book. But on the other hand, then you’d be 80, and publishing your first book, and spent most of your life working towards success that you’ll maybe get to enjoy a few years at best.

      I realize I have a horribly unpopular opinion on this…

  4. Rather unpopular honesty than popular delusion. A realistic view of how things are is an essential for a writer A

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