Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Agent on My Shoulder

I admit, as thrilling as it's been, getting an agent, it's also been quite a mental adjustment. I keep having to remind myself that someone "out there" liked my book enough, believed in it enough, to offer representation. There's also a pressure I hadn't expected--to prove him right, that he was wise to offer representation. I don't want to let him down!

More importantly, having an agent has created this little voice in my head--this little person sitting on my shoulder as I write, now. Because a phenomenon has occurred, in the weeks since I've signed with him: I've started seeing my book (the current one, as well as works-in-progress) through his eyes. We've been through a couple of revisions together--he gives me suggestions, we bat ideas around, and I get to work. And now, as I write fresh material, I'm already jumping ahead to wonder, "What will he think of this plot twist? Will he agree that her reaction here is appropriate?" I'm already anticipating his input, his suggestions.

Sure, that voice can be a little irritating, because I'm not used to it being there. I've only ever had to please myself when I write. But now, there's someone else (and hopefully, in the future, many more someone else's (readers!)) to consider. And I've realized--having someone else to please has also done something wonderful. It's upped my game. That agent on my shoulder is like a supportive coach, holding the goal up, higher than it's ever been, and telling me, "You can do it. Reach higher, go bigger. Stretch yourself."

Sure, one could argue that as writers, we should only please ourselves. That we should ignore other voices, the tendency to please someone else. But, as long as we agree with those suggestions of another, as long as they do nothing but improve the book, why not try to please them?

So, even if you don't have that agent just yet, place that little coach on your shoulder anyway, the one telling you to reach higher, go bigger. Stretch yourself.


  1. How great is that. I look to my critique partners much the same way, as in, how will they see this and then use their cheerleading to continue writing better.

    On a side note, I came across your agent's name in a list I had compiled some time ago. I looked at his website again today and it said they are not looking for any fantasy. I wouldn't call mine fantasy, but it does have some fantasy elements. Oh well. Cross that name off the list. This is hard work. I'm glad you got through it. Can't wait to see your book on the shelves.

  2. Thanks!! You're lucky to have critique partners! I've never really had a writing group or critique readers, but my mom is fantastic (I call her my "editor") and has read all my books, and offers great, constructive input. I've never felt her on my "shoulder" like I have this agent, though. Maybe because it feels like there's a lot at stake with him? *shrug*

    Neat, that you found my agent's name in your list. Yeah, I noticed that too - he's not into the fantasy genre much. I think he likes less-modern types of children's books? In fact, I told him I've always wanted to write a book in the vein of "Anne of Green Gables" and he loved that idea!

    You'll find your "one!" I'm certain of it. Just your blog alone is enough to tell me what a witty, creative writer you are. Can't wait to see what happens with your queries this year!! Very exciting...

  3. Congratulations! I am sure with a supportive agent, your writing could only get better.