Tuesday, September 13, 2011

So You Think You Want an Agent

I attended a meeting Sunday evening with a large group of young single adults. I’m not single anymore, but I do like to think that I still fit into the young adult category, so I went. (It also helped that I had an invitation.)

I don’t know about you, but it seems like I filter everything these days through my writer--and especially my querying writer--ears. So even though the speaker was talking about the differences between being single and being married, I heard a talk about the differences between having and not having an agent.

One thing stood out to me. During a particularly low period in her life, when she was struggling with her singlehood and certain she was never, ever going to achieve her goal of marrying a wonderful man, an unexpected thought occurred to her: “If you can’t handle the challenges of being single, what makes you think you can handle the challenges of being married?”

Of course, the thought that came to me was, “If I can’t handle the challenges of not having an agent, what makes me think I can handle the challenges of actually having one?”

We’re all pretty familiar with the challenges of not having an agent. We worry that our writing isn’t good enough, that we’ll never live our dreams. Personally, I worry that everyone will think I’m just a hack, that I’ll have this relatively interesting blog but nothing to back it up. I worry that you’ll think less of me because I don’t have an agent, because no one from the industry has given me some mystical seal of approval.

It’s ridiculous, I know, and I’ve worked long and hard to root this melon-sized lump of pride out of my system. I can honestly say my friends’ successes no longer feel like my failures. (Okay, maybe I feel a little jealous for, like, two minutes, but no more than two minutes, I swear!) My point is, the challenges aren’t going to get any easier from here (hello, negative reviews and one-star Amazon ratings!), and if I can’t master these ones, then maybe I’m not ready to take that next step. As Irv says in Cool Runnings, that old Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team, “If you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”

I know this is one of those oft-repeated themes on writing-related blogs, but I'm going to repeat it one more time. Instead of dreaming about and wishing for the challenges of tomorrow, we'd make better use of our time by learning how to master the challenges of today. That way, when those challenges we've been dreaming about do come, we'll know just how to handle them.

28 comments:

Sarah said...

Great post! It's all about making the best of whatever situation you find yourself in and not wasting any potential lessons and opportunities by yearning for the next step on the journey.

Melanie Stanford said...

Good post. I like how you talk about dealing with the challenges of today. I find myself looking ahead and wishing for those challenges of tomorrow when I should be dealing with the ones now.

Leigh Ann said...

Yeah. I'm pretty sure everyone thinks I'm a hack, and especially just really silly that someone with my day job is trying to write novels. For publication. For people to read.

This is usually the point in my WiP (about 2/3 in) that I start to bemoan the fact that these characters ever spoke to me in the first place, and now that they're annoying me just enough to not let me stop writing.

Luckily, this is my second, so I know the feeling when you type "the end" and just want to jump all over your house. And when I think about the promise of that, for that moment it *is* enough.

But I really, really, really REALLY want an agent. Like, really.

Jenilyn Tolley said...

This is a really great post! Thanks so much for sharing.

Kelly Bryson said...

Thanks Krista- I always love your pep talks. And I also went to a fireside on Sunday (for youth), but the takeaway was "pornography is bad and nobody is bullet proof." That's applicable to books also, I suppose, but not so warm&fuzzy!

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I love that quote from Cool Runnings. That is so perfect. I need to write that out and put it above my computer screen.

Great post, Krista!

Amy

Bethany C. said...

Well THAT hit home--and you're absolutely right. Sometimes I feel like I'm just waiting until I get "there" (wherever that is) before I start to enjoy this experience. This is a great reminder to just do today as it is given.

Cassie Mae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassie Mae said...

Always inspiring. And I actually was just about to post about getting to the end of my WiP, and how I can't wait to start querying again, but I need to exercise that wonderful thing called 'patience'. Now I can also try to live this day by day, and be happy with the accomplishments I've made so far.

And trust me, I don't think less of you at all. In fact, I find your optimism and point of view so encouraging. I'm addicting to your blog and the way you so eloquently put things that I know that your books have the same flare, because YOU wrote them. I can't wait for you to get that agent and publisher so I can go out and buy your work. :)

Krista V. said...

Well said, Sarah! (But much easier said than done:) )

Melanie, I think we writers are just a wishful bunch:) We probably wouldn't write if we didn't have the imaginations that we do. The balance is the key - and the tricky part.

You know, Leigh Ann, you made a great point when you mentioned that our dreams can sustain us. Imagining that day if/when I finally get that Call is one of the main things that motivates me to put my butt in the chair and write. The trick is not to get lost inside our daydreams:)

And thank you, Jeni, for stopping by and commenting!

Kelly, yes, that would be a tricky subject to tackle in a blog post:) Three boos for pornography! (I hope no one finds my blog after Googling "pornography"...)

Amy, the quote from Cool Runnings is pure gold. I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time I've used it a blog post:)

Bethany, "there" is a tricky place, because "there" is always changing. (Apparently, tricky is the word of the day right now...) That reminds me of a blog post I did a while back about being content. Contentedness has nothing to do with where we're at but how we feel about it. You can be content in the middle of maelstrom if you really put your mind to it and focus on the things that matter.

Krista V. said...

Cassie Mae, thank you for your comment. I really appreciate your kind words. They mean a lot.

Connie Keller said...

Great post. Thanks for the reminder.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post! I worry about being able to handle everything (especially deadlines!) - but I'm still hoping for it to happen :)

Jenny S. Morris said...

This is a great post. I totally know how you feel!

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

GOOD POST, I was just talkinga bout this with my husband!

Marie Rearden said...

Love this post! Just what I needed to dig into my wordy, flowery MS. :)

Marie at the Cheetah

Michael G-G said...

I admire your honesty, Krista. What comes across, time and time again, is what a good human being you are.

As I remind myself (in the same unagented boat as you), just keeping working, and it only takes one "yes!"

May your "yes" come soon.

Adam Heine said...

I never made that connection, but it's so true. We often look at marriage to solve all our problems, but honestly we'll just bring them with us. Marriage (and agenting) doesn't change us.

But okay, agents, I'm ready! I'm whole and mature and don't need an agent to complete me. But I do need one to help me start a family, I mean sell books!

Adam Heine said...

That sounded too needy, didn't it?

Rebecca said...

I got married so young that I never really spent any time being single.

Not so with my writing. I've spent a long time growing and learning as a writer. Now I'm all grown up and ready for an agent/writer relationship, but if it doesn't come right away, I'm okay with it.

Great post!

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Connie. Good to hear from you.

Jemi, that's something my newly agented friends have expressed concern about - working with a deadline for the first time in their careers. It's a good thing to think about now, while we're still freestyling it, so that when that moment comes, we'll be ready to seize that day.

Thanks, Jenny!

We must be on the same wavelength, Read my books:)

Hurray for revisions, Marie! Good luck with those!

Thank you, Michael. May your "Yes!" come soon as well.

No, Adam, not needy at all. Okay, maybe a little:) But on a more serious note, it's so easy to look at some future event and say, "I'll be happy then" or "I'll be better then," and we miss out on so much growth and happiness now.

Rebecca, I got married young as well, but I like to think I was a mature twenty-year-old:) Sometimes I can't help but wonder if I'm a mature writer and, if I am, how I'll know it. Good food for thought.

Esther Vanderlaan said...

Wow. You're right, now I think about it. Thanks for sharing!

Shallee said...

I love the way you put this. We hear a lot about the idea of being happy where you are, but the way you wrote it hit home for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

Krista V. said...

You're welcome, Esther! (And I'll answer the questions you sent by the end of the week, I promise!)

Yeah, Shallee, I didn't intend for this post to turn into a be-happy-where-you're-at kind of post, but it definitely went in that direction. It's funny how interrelated all these ideas are.

Lora R. Rivera said...

This is a great post. You're right. It won't get any easier, and each part of the journey prepares us for the next step. I hear agent rejections are cake compared with editors'. If I'm still falling apart with every little R, I've got a long way to go.

Thanks for the reminder... and the encouragement.

Krista V. said...

Lora, I've heard the same thing about agent versus editor rejections. In fact, one agent mentioned that editor rejections devastate her, so she can only imagine how hard they must be on the author. All the more reason to take the time to develop a thick skin now and not spend all day daydreaming about reaching the next step.

Laura Barnes said...

Awesome post, Krista. I needed to hear it. Thanks for going off topic and sharing it with us.

Krista V. said...

Laura, I think we all need to hear stuff like this every now and then. That's why I write it down - so that when I'm feelng low, I can come back and read my own words, smack myself on the cheeks, and say, "Now get back in there, Krista, and get to work."