Thursday, July 21, 2011

No Turning Back...Or, It's a Good Thing I Love my Agent

No, really.  This post isn't actually about the effervescent Josh Getzler.  (Who, by the way, is dying for you to follow him on Twitter. RIGHT HERE.)

This is about another subtle shift-in-the-writer-psyche that happens after you're agented.  It seems ultra-obvious, but for some reason it hasn't really hit me until now.

Namely, I'm not in charge anymore.

Think about the freedom you have, pre-agent.  (Or, for that matter, pre-editor.) You decide what to write, when to write it.  You come up with your own timeline, your own goals. I started giving myself deadlines a couple years ago, for instance. I knew I would NEED to be able to write to deadline eventually.  In fact, I feared I wouldn't be able to do it.  (Truly. I thought it might be a show-stopper.)

So, yeah. I trained myself to write to deadlines.  But nobody told me to do it.  I was, yanno, in charge of myself.

Well, okay.  I'm still in charge.  Kind of.  Josh isn't making unreasonable demands, isn't sending me to-do lists, isn't threatening me to do things His Way Or Else.  But the truth is that, when I signed with him, I was saying, in a sense, "You are managing my career."

Do you hear that?  It's more than just "You are going to sell my book."  And it's certainly more than "Oh my freaking gosh, you actually LIKE MY STUFF and I get to tell everyone about it!"

No.  It's "You are managing my career."

Not manipulating.  Not "taking over."  Not make-or-breaking.  Just...managing.

And that involves a level of conceding things.  Things like, "What should I be doing while *X* is going on?" And "Where's my place in this week's client queue?" And "Let's go over the game plan one more time to make sure I understand."

And so on.

Sometimes it means getting wrapped up in "Project F" and suddenly having to refocus on something different.  Sometimes it means waiting without knowing what, exactly, you should be doing--if anything. Sometimes it means forcing yourself to concentrate on your work while you're on pins and needles. Or while you're discouraged.  Or while you're Just Not Sure about anything.

You can't go off in a corner and start writing a new story just to make yourself feel better.  Well, I mean, you could.  But it would be awfully counterproductive if your career demands something different.  Or if your agent is waiting on revisions. Or if you're going to have to stop what you're doing, anyway, as soon as you get a certain phone call. (Hypothetically speaking.)

Yeah.  Not "in charge" anymore.

All that to say, it's a good thing! It's what I've wanted.  Needed.  It's incredibly freeing to be able to focus on SIMPLY WRITING.  (Well, I'm highly distractible. But you know what I mean.)  And in the end, this is where I want to be.  Even if it means waiting when I don't want to wait, or revising when I'd rather not revise, or explaining to my husband for the hundredth time that agents sign CLIENTS, not BOOKS, and that Josh and I are going to be a team for time untold.

It's just the control freak in me, rearing her twisted little head.  I've got her well under control most of the time.  In fact, I've come a long way!  (You wouldn't want to know the Old Me. No, you would not.) Acknowledging the change in my "freedom status" and reminding myself that this is exactly where I need to be helps keep me centered.

So.  There's your dose of Authoress brain goo for the month.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go stalk my agent.

(Kidding. I'm just kidding!)

(Well, sort of.)


  1. Oh, AA, and then there are subs, which are completely out of your control. And his. I've heard it called the second circle of hell...

  2. Thank you for this post. It's a situation I've not encountered (yet) but I can imagine the paradigm shift. We try so hard to get to the "finish line" we sometimes forget the whole dynamic of writing changes once we cross that threshold.

  3. I don't have an agent, but I'm in the middle of writing through discouragement right now. Actually, it was the discouragement that really pushed me to get my act together and start writing in earnest again, so I guess that's a good thing. And a thousand words on my first day back from a break isn't too bad.

  4. Oh man, I'm totally hitting this feeling head-on right now. It's just so DIFFERENT having someone else suddenly making most of the executive decisions.

    But really, the best part is what you said: being able to focus on simply writing. That's what I wanted. If I wanted to do all the executive crap, I wouldn't have busted my butt to get an agent.

    I do like being involved in the process to some degree, but it's definitely going to take some discipline to pry my fingers from the reins and let my agent do what she's awesome at without needlessly obsessing.

    It is indeed a paradigm shift, but a welcome one.

  5. Ha! Yes, I'm editing my book for my agent for the first time ever (not too much editing - just enough to make me work!) and it's a whole new ballgame. I'm just taking deep breaths and trusting at this point.

  6. I'd love for Josh Getzler to be in charge of my career. Hey! Maybe I should send him a query. : ) -- 2nd circle of Hell, 7th, 9th...I'm ready. Bring it!

  7. Well, I'm outside the window looking into the candy store, but I'd love an agent's help on revisions, what to write next, etc. Luckily, I'm not controlling. Unluckily, I don't have an agent, so it doesn't matter. But I'm still working on it!!!

  8. I understand - I remember when I sat down to write the sequel to the ms that I was agented for and thinking, "OK, this actually matters now."

    You know, if I failed before, the only person I was letting down was myself.

  9. It is an adjustment to go from solo act to team player. Goes to show how connecting with the right agent is so important.