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My Jane Austen Summer
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Category Archives: Agent
I spent the holidays finalizing revisions on my novel while my family skied. Yesterday I sent the third draft to my agent, with the expectation that we are almost there. But, I don’t know this for certain, and now I am waiting to hear from her. Waiting.
As a writer, I have spent a lot of time waiting, and instead of worrying about sitting still while the industry evolves, books become obsolete, and publishing, as we know it, ceases to exist, I’ve developed a strategy for dealing with the tension. Rather than obsessing over how long it is taking, I try to distract myself. Here are a few of my strategies for coping:
I will never be able to go back in time to visit earlier versions of my writing-self, but if I could, I would offer my younger writing-self a firm pat on the back and tell her that the endless rejection and setbacks would eventually result in a published book.
Taking a picture of myself that is worthy of a book cover is nearly impossible. The only other process that comes close to requiring perfect sync of so many variables is the miracle of conception. Yet the world is full of author photos, and agent and editor both neeeded mine yesterday. On a day when hair, weight, and attitude were momentarily aligned, I called husband and invited him to lunch at the arboretum. We took 200 pictures. Upon review, not one was a keeper. In case we were being too picky, I sent a batch to my good friend for her honest advice. She said, “Do you have any shots that look like you?”
Five years ago, I listened with 500 unpublished writers in a huge hotel ballroom as a panel of literary agents introduced themselves to the Writer’s League of Texas. We were there because we all wanted one thing: a literary agent. But who among us had what it took to be signed by one of these? Even newbies understood the supply side of this dynamic. But I wasn’t a newbie anymore. I’d been around long enough to ditch my first novel in a drawer along with a pile of rejection: thankful agents stepping aside so that other agents who will feel differently about my manuscript can wish me all the best with my writing.
This time, last year, I went to England to meet Jane Austen. I was nervous, and with good reason since I’d taken the liberty of writing about our relationship, even though we’d never met. I ran the terrible risk of discovering I’d based my book on a deep misunderstanding . Five years of my life could go down the drain.
Not to mention what Agent would say.
My Writing Teacher warned us not to waste calories worrying about titles for our books. Editors replace working titles–in a heartbeat–at the appropriate time. Nonetheless, I secretly wasted calories worrying about titles. I burned calories I could have used writing a sequel.
FYI: Title Worry consumes the same number of calories as enforcing time limits on Xbox players.
I descended into title madness between 3 and 4 am on select nights, generating a vast graveyard of titles too embarrassing to exhume. Example: DITCHED BY JANE AUSTEN which I submitted to Editor before First Reader was awake one morning. Sadly, some of my working titles came within a mere word of the winning title but I couldn’t close the gap, as if my synapses weren’t quite up to the challenge. Was this a symptom of a deeper affliction? An inability to grasp the meaning of the 90,000 words I’d spent five years writing?