I had a cool realization today: I want an literary agent to represent me, but not only because I want them to help my dream come true and get published. For a while, that’s what I thought I have been praying for and dreaming about, finding that one person who likes my stories enough to help me get them published, since that is how the industry works (and I am still really apprehensive about self-publishing). But I realized what I actually want is a connected, critical eye that will help raise my story to the next level before it gets published. I was focused so much on the final product that I was overseeing the value of that middle step that I desperately want–and am ready–to take; just need to find the right agent, first.
What I want is that partner who is knowledgeable where I am ignorant; who is seeing where I am blind; who is confident where I am doubtful; who is experienced where I am lacking. I want a partner who believes in my characters and my world so much that they are willing to point out the flaws in them or places where they are stronger. But even more, I want that have a relationship with my agent to where they trust my judgement as much as I trust theirs, where we bounce ideas off one another and are both willing to put in the work until the finished product is the best that we are capable of making it. Then, they can work their magic and their connections and find an editor, a publishing house, a designer and everything else that goes into publishing a book while I slave away at the next project for us to undertake together.
Though I have searched for representation on and off for some time, I think I was focusing too much on the end goal, on “what-you-can-do-for-me,” so to speak, instead of focusing on finding someone who not only complements me, but that I could be a good author for them. And now that February is almost upon us, this weekend, I’ll be drafting up another query, doing my research and sending out another batch with hopes and prayers. And, as always, I’m hopeful that this round might have some luck for me. The first time I queried, I received nothing but tight-lipped, snippy rejections, if anything at all. Most emails went unanswered. The second round, a few months ago, I got twice as many responses. While all were rejections, some were much more personal and some even cheery, wishing me luck and giving me hope. It seems like a natural progression, almost; and in a sense, I feel that the next logical step has to be an agent being interested and asking for a full manuscript. Then, perhaps, an offer? Right? Right?
Okay, maybe that is pushing it a little too close to a dream-world, but, as ever, I’ll remain hopeful and continue to work hard. I think this new found (and now rather obvious, if I think about it) realization of what I want out of an agent and knowing what I could provide for someone willing to believe in me and put their time and effort into my work might help improve my query. Who knows?
What I do know is that I want to be read. More so, I want Darryn’s story to be read. I’ve never found a writing circle to join and hardly any souls have read about his life. No one has read the full trilogy. But after an interested past student of mine wanted to read it and then did in very little time, offering both praise and criticism, I realized how much I wanted to be read. It was such a cool experience to have someone else confirm the things you hoped would work (such as not being able to stop reading because every chapter ends in a cliffhanger) and point out things that could be improved, things that bothered them or what they noticed (which leads me back to editing Darryn’s story…again). And it was cool to have a discussion about it. But it was exciting for two reasons:
One, with every update sent about their reading progress or reactions, it made me feel invigorated to write. Where I am at currently in life, I have plenty of time to write, but find myself spending most of it not writing. While my two current projects include editing the third book in Darryn’s trilogy and converting a screenplay into a novel (with a third new series lingering in the back of my head, pounding at the door for me to start researching), most of the time I am playing video games instead of working. Yet receiving this feedback makes me want to edit (which is a miracle in itself) and continue to improve Darryn’s story so that when I find an agent, we can really start working to get it published, so that one day, I can respond to fan emails or read reviews on Goodreads and take part in discussions over what my characters did or went through. Because that would be an amazing benefit to being a published writer and one I didn’t realize I craved so deeply.
Two, I was excited because when my student offered their lengthy list of critiques, instead of getting offended or immediately trying to defend my work or my choices, I asked myself why the reader responded that way and how I could improve it to make my own intentions clear or to improve the story. And then I celebrated the fact that this in fact isn’t published yet, so I can go back and continue to improve it. And I think it is a really positive reaction of my part. One of the main reason I am actually scared to be published is I take criticism so personally, especially when I shouldn’t. But I think, slowly, my writing and my mindset is improving to the point that instead of taking criticism as a stab through the heart, I can view it as a rung in a ladder that I am trying to climb to reach my dreams. Without criticism to help point my mind to places I can’t see weakness due to closeness and familiarity, these stories would never improve and they would never be told. And I want them desperately to be told, if only so I can continue to improve and tell more.
Anyway, thanks for reading what I initially intended to be a short explanation of a recent revelation, that instead turned into a plethora of thoughts and rationale behind them concerning my writing and my goal as a future writer. Time to edit and draft another query. I can’t wait until I write the blog post telling you all I found representation–or, better yet, the day I’m published. Until then, I have some work to do.