If I had a crystal ball to look back at all the times in my life I had to wait for things, I would probably be astonished at how many hours I have spent in a holding pattern. In those moments of uncertainty, time takes on a mystical quality and one day feels like a week, a week feels like a year and anything longer than that feels like an eternity.
Trying to connect with, and build a relationship with, a literary agent has taken waiting to a whole new level. I have crafted something I am extremely proud of and want so much to find someone as passionate about sharing my story as I am. But that takes time – a lot of time. Agents are very busy people and I understand that. My manuscript is one in a pile of hundreds that they have to sort through to find a collection of phrases and characters that speak to them and that they think they can sell to a publishing company. I get it. But that doesn’t make the waiting any easier.
I recently submitted my full manuscript to a literary agent in New York. Her email, although encouraging, did say it would be a few weeks before I heard back from her. That email was sent 9 days ago but, in my estimation, it feels like 9 months have gone by since we had any communication. In that 9 days, my emotion has gone from elation to worry, from feeling confident to being self-deprecating. It has been a roller coaster of emotion but it is a train I have been hanging on to because that ride up and down those tracks and through those loops is part of the thrill of the journey to being published. I can only hope that the ride ends well and I don’t veer off the tracks into a wall.
Do you remember when you were fresh out of college or university and wanting to find that perfect job in the field you just spent four years studying? You got money from your parents to buy the perfect “power outfit”, perhaps an attaché case to look more professional, and then you set off in search of gainful employment. You arrived on time for each interview and got told the same thing from each prospective employer – come back when you’ve got some experience. As you left the interviews, the thought in the back of your mind got stuck on a crazy loop in your head and played incessantly – if nobody will give me a job, how can I gain the experience I need?
Looking for a literary agent is much the same for a debut author. It took more than four years, from conception to finished product, for me to write my first novel. I put more focus and emotion into creating the story than I ever expended in college and I am truly proud of the finished product. The people who have taken the time to read it have loved it.
But convincing an agent to give the whole story a chance is like applying for a job with no real world experience. Those first five or ten pages you submit are like your first two minutes in a job interview, they are introductory and don’t really give the person reading you enough time to see what you are really about. They can only judge you based on a succinct appraisal that doesn’t give your story time to prove itself and, in the end, they prefer an author who has been previously published. In other words, they don’t want to give the job to people who don’t have experience.
This post is not an attack on literary agents, by any means. I get it. They receive a plethora of emails from thousands of people who think they could be the next Dean Koontz, Nicholas Sparks or J.K. Rowling. Their email inboxes must feel like a revolving door, having multiple queries thrown at them every time the door makes a new revolution.
My intent with this post is not to blame literary agents for being so busy. My intent with this post is to merely put a wish into the universe that, one day, that revolving door will find a giant foot wedged into it allowing my query to fall into the right inbox at the right time. Just maybe, I can impress someone enough to have them read the whole manuscript and to get the job without having previous experience.
I have learned a great deal about the writing world as I have begun to emerge myself in my quest to find a literary agent. Each agent has unique specifications for sending a query and a fledgling author is bound to follow those guidelines or run the risk of having their submission thrown into the slush pile.
Many agents follow a similar model for submissions so it becomes a less daunting task as time goes on, but then you get the agent who asks you to sum up your manuscript in one sentence. For me, that is a very arduous task. There are so many twists and turns to my story that it is extremely difficult to craft one sentence that can convey every nuance of the story.
Imagine that you are in a job interview and you are asked to describe yourself in one sentence. Can you do it? Or are there so many different facets to you that coming up with one line to describe all of those things is impossible?
While I gave my all to put together a sentence that did its best to describe my novel, I know I did not do my story justice. My book requires much more than just one sentence to fully illustrate its depth. After I wrote that sentence, I felt like a test car that had crashed into the wall before reaching its maximum speed.
I have been more careful in selecting agents who are willing to allow me to give much more insight into my novel than just one sentence. Even sending the first three chapters does not truly allow the people who hold my future in their hands enough material to see what the story truly has in store for them. I can only hope that they see enough bait to make them swim closer to the hook and take a full bite. I can promise, they will be reeled in if they take the chance!
Shame them for doubting me and trying to deny me of my sleep.
As soon as I saw the stack of mattresses, I knew. ‘Twas not the first I’d heard of this nonsense.
You see, my dear Prince, I am but a humble slave, soon to be your wife.
Over the last few years, I have found myself very driven to spend a great deal of my spare time volunteering. I have always liked helping people so this step was a natural progression in my desire to offer my time to help those in need. With a background in hospitality and a passion for cooking, it came as no surprise to me that I have combined all of those things about myself and I have become very active with our local Food Bank.
When you weave your way into the world of volunteering, you see just how many people are right along side of you, driven by the same aspiration to lend a hand where they can. The faces you see in your daily life suddenly become the hands behind the volunteer work that you didn’t know they were a part of. They don’t do it for the recognition, they simply do it because they want to help.
I have been very fortunate to become a part of a group of people with a vision that continues to grow to serve our small community. Sure, there are a few people who need more recognition than others and an occasional public pat on the back, but there are always a few of those people in every crowd. Thankfully our intentions come from the same place and we put forth the same effort to achieve the desired results.
If you have ever entertained the idea of volunteering, I highly recommend it. Just knowing that your efforts make such a difference in people’s lives, regardless of where you volunteer your time, is a truly heart-warming feeling. And there is no shortage of places that could use an extra pair of hands or two. The amount of time you commit to volunteering is always up to you but every second you spend helping those who struggle is well worth the time you take to show other people that you care.
I survived my doctor’s appointment with little concern for my safety. After explaining my long-term relationship with my decongestant eye drops, my doctor was very understanding and said that many people have no idea about how much they can be affected by over-the-counter medication. A friend of mine who is a nurse uttered the same sentiments.
While my post today may seem like a public service announcement, it is more of a message to all of you to be selective about the medication you purchase without a prescription and to ask the Pharmacist questions about how these easy-to-access medications could be potentially harmful to your health, especially if you are on prescription drugs.
The more I researched the side effects of my eye drops the more shocked I became. Not only were the active ingredients in those drops enough to counteract my BP medication, they could also increase my blood pressure on their own. And if the drops themselves weren’t bad enough, the way I had been putting them into the corner of my eye made them a bigger problem because they went directly into my tear ducts and straight into my bloodstream.
I will gracefully step down from my soapbox now with the hope that you will take a few moments to look at the chemicals in any over-the-counter medications you may have in your medicine cabinet and make sure they are the best choices for you to be taking. Better to be safe than sorry.