Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sadistic Agents!

Sometimes I think literary agents are sadistic. Sure, they claim to just be busy, but I have to wonder if they take secret pleasure in torturing poor writer-wannabes.

Their number one method of torture? Silence.

This is how it goes. You send them a query, and then they say nothing in return. You, the overly-anxious writer, start the clock the moment you hit "send" on the e-mail, or stick the envelope in the mailbox. Each hour, day, week, and month passes in silence. Yet, you can't help but allow your heart to leap with excitement when Outlook tells you that you have new mail. You expect it to be a request for a partial, or a rejection. Either would be the kind thing, setting your mind at ease.

But you wait and wait.

Of course, if they do request a partial, this process repeats, often for even longer periods of time. You go through phases of thinking that the longer they take the more likely they are considering your work. Then you think that the longer they take, the more likely they don't care. Then you think that the longer they take, the more likely the partial ended up lost somewhere between you and the agent.

And, when they eventually request a full (presuming they didn't reject the partial), you go through it all over again.

Torture. And they know it, I'm sure of it! Perhaps that's what they want. If a writer can survive the torture of waiting, then the writer might have what it takes to be a full-fledged author.

All the while, you sit at his computer, twitching, nails chewed to the quick, and muttering things about yourself in the third person. You may even start sputtering "gollum! gollum!" every once in a while.

Maybe agents figure writers have to be insane, and this helps ensure their insanity. Insane authors mean great authors who write best-sellers sitting nude in the back of some closet.

Not that I'm insane. Or, at least, no more than usual. But I'm quickly approaching the level of insanity.

I've been waiting and waiting and waiting now. Four weeks, actually. Not really that long in the grand scheme of things. But when you have a full sitting on the desk of an agent, the ability to perceive time changes, and what is only a day feels like a week, and a week feels like months.

I imagine that the agent already read my manuscript. The agent probably read it a few days after receiving it. But then the agent decided to set a reminder on her calendar to only contact me after months have passed. That is, assuming they are simply going to reject me. Then again, if the agent plans to take me on as a client, then she must not have read it at all. Yet. So, then the question becomes "when!"

The worst thing about all this is that when my wife calls me at work, it ends up being a let down. I love my wife. I enjoy talking to her. But in my mind, when the caller ID says it is my home number, it can only mean one thing. My wife is calling me. She is calling to tell me that the agent called and wants me to call her back. So, I pick up the phone, excitedly, only to find out my wife wants to know if I can pick up a pizza on the way home. (Really, honey, I do enjoy talking to you, it's just when I sound disappointed, it is nothing personal!)

And so the torture continues. Sadistic agents!

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