I signed with an agent this week. It’s official. I can now say I am an agented writer. I am excited, but in a this-is-too-good-to-be-true sort of way. I have to admit, it feels a bit unreal. The agent is very enthusiastic and energetic and engaged, and I’m delighted about that. She read my manuscript in record time (under 24 hours) and offered me representation on the spot. I walked around in a daze for several hours after receiving her email.
I’m still in a bit of a daze. After eight years of working on this book, researching and outlining and writing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing (and in the meantime freelancing and giving birth to two children—not to mention raising them and occasionally feeding them—and helping run a non-profit) I had begun to feel as though I would be working on the same manuscript, living with the same set of characters, for the rest of my natural life. Now all of a sudden someone else is taking ownership of the process of shepherding it, and them, out into the world, and it’s the oddest feeling. Not a bad one, mind you. Not at all. Just… different. Throwing me off balance. It’s allowing me suddenly to imagine writing other things, creating different characters, picturing a writing career. Part of me is rushing ahead, already planning creative ideas for book signings, thinking of ways to market the book. Another part of me is pulling in the reins, cautious to get my hopes up, remembering just how many manuscripts land in editors’ in-boxes these days.
A friend was just over and while our children ran around under a sprinkler in the unseasonable heat, she told me of the recent bad news from her agent. After having her first book on submission to editors for 18 months and not getting a sale, the agent read my friend’s next novel that she wrote during that time, and doesn’t like it. (The dreaded “this isn’t quite working for me.”) Now my friend is wondering whether she should work to fit the book to her agent’s liking, or scrap it and write yet another one. Yikes! A year ago, this friend seemed in such an enviable position to me. Agented, one book on submission, already part of a draft of a next book. (I still envy her: that she has what it takes to buckle down and write another book, and has ideas for yet another, and can sit and write for hours without getting distracted.) It’s a reminder to me of how things can change, how each step in the process brings its own challenges and highs and lows, and how doggedly one has to keep at it.
It’s a roller coaster ride, this writing thing. But I wouldn’t dream of not pursuing it.