The Infamous Agent

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

42. How not to get an agent

If you’ve been paying attention to any of my previous posts, you know that I don’t have an agent. I have no writing career to speak of, aside from my ambitions and will-be-finished-someday-soon-I-swear manuscript. As a result I’ve had to do a bit of research on the next few prompts, since they all involve information that only someone who had put actual effort into a serious writing career would know.

For how NOT to get an agent, I’ve snatched a few ideas that I found from actual agents explaining what not to do if you want them to pay any attention to you.

If you do NOT want to get yourself an agent…

…send them a query letter that talks about how wonderful your book is. They will be the judge of that.

…send them a manuscript of a genre that they have stated they do not represent.

…waste time and energy telling them your entire life story when you should be focusing on the important information about your manuscript.

…send them a manuscript that is rife with spelling and grammatical errors.

…contact them in inappropriate ways, i.e. stalking their Facebook page, calling their home phone number, etc.

…reply to a rejection with anger; seriously people, grow up. You’re supposed to be a professional.

…beg and plead for them to accept you. Again, I say, grow up.

So there you have it. Pick a couple of the above suggestions, have at it, and you’ll not have an agent in no time!

A Little Push

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

29. Encourage other writers to keep going

I suspect that it is an inevitable truth that at some point (and possibly multiple, regularly occurring points) every writer feels like giving up. Whether you’re an amateur working on your first real manuscript or a published professional having issues in editing, writers are a naturally self-depreciating breed. As my rage comic indicated, we have a tendency to flow through repeating stages of “I’m so awesome!” and “I’m such a hack!” It is a tendency we share with artists, musicians, and other creative peoples who put a little piece of their own selves into their work.

Some of this constant shift in attitude can be attributed to physiology (moods, hormones, emotional state due to outside forces, etc), but much of it is likely due to the lifestyle of a writer and the inability of people in general to fairly, and without bias, judge themselves.

The lifestyle may break may would-be writers because they simply can’t (or feel that they can’t) handle it. The life of a writer may seem simple and carefree to many, but in reality it can be very stressful and difficult. Deadlines may lead to anxiety and burnout. Disagreements with editors and agents can cause frustration and a feeling of losing creative control. Rejections from published and poor critiques/reviews can create doubt, depression, and the belief that you’ll never be successful. It’s a mentally and emotionally exhausting situation to volunteer for.

And then there’s that bit about being unable to judge ourselves. As humans, we are notorious for this, not just involving creative processes, but in every aspect of our lives. One only needs to observe drivers on the highway to understand the concept. Everyone on the road believes that they are an excellent driver, while everyone else is a dangerous SOB who needs to be arrested. It’s the same with writers, except that in our case it works at both ends of the spectrum. Either you think you rock (even if you don’t) while everyone else is a hack, or else everyone else is amazing while you’re a miserable failure (even if you aren’t).

So, in conclusion, being a writer is wrought with emotional distress, time management impossibilities, peer-to-peer conflict, pain of rejection, and psychological issues, and on top of all that you might never become successful enough to make a living out of it.

And here I am, supposedly about to tell you to keep going. Hmm…

Here’s the thing…have you ever heard the phrase that nothing worth doing is easy? While it may not be a logical descriptor for every person in every situation, it still rings true a good deal of the time. Do you think the athletes who go to the Olympics just breeze through the events without any training? Do you think young army recruits just walk through the door and all of a sudden they’re a high-ranking officer? Hell, do you think pregnant women just have a squat and a grunt and a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby just pops out?

If you really care about something – genuinely want it with all your heart, then you’ll do what you have to do and endure what you have to endure to make that dream a reality. Olympians know that they’re going to have to push their bodies to the limit, but they crave that gold, so they move through it. Privates-in-training know they’re going to be trained hard and disparaged at every turn, but they want to serve, so they deal with it. And women know damn well that childbirth is like to be a painful, miserable event that makes them feel like they’re going to die, but they want to bring a life into the world so they damn well manage it.

So if you really want to be a writer, write. Put your heart and soul into it and deal with whatever you have to deal with as a result, because in the end that’s the only true way to get what you want. You have to be willing to do whatever is necessary, end of discussion. If you aren’t willing, well…I guess you didn’t really want it very much in the first place, did you?

New Job, New Time Management Issues

My husband’s uncle asked me a question today. An innocent question: “How’s the book going?” The answer was not quite as innocent: “Not as good after going out West!”

I haven’t written a thing since the week before my flight to Alberta. At first it was because I (obviously) had more important things on my mind, like figuring out how meals work on the camp, and becoming acquainted with my many new coworkers. As the days went on, writing continued to go by the wayside because I was adjusting to a new job that involves a hell of a lot of walking, climbing stairs and ladders, and hanging out in stifling heat while wearing flame-retardant, long-sleeved coveralls. In other words, I was tired. By the time the last few days of my two-week rotation began to wear down, I continued to fail to write because of good old fashioned laziness. Even after returning home, I got no writing done over the past five days because I’ve been too busy enjoying my daughter and filling other obligations (i.e. my niece’s birthday party…enjoy being 3, cutie!), and no one can possibly blame me for that.

Reincorporating writing into my schedule is one of the things that I’m going to have to work on with this new job, but other than a few minor complaints (I never did get the internet working in my room) the entire ‘Out West’ experience has gone much better than I expected. I don’t mind the camp at all, the work is easy and laid-back, safety is actually number one for a change, my coworkers are all good guys, and there is no way anyone could possibly complain about the money. All in all, I have to say that I am honestly enjoying the job. Yes, of course, being away from the baby for two weeks at a time is less than fun, but look at it this way: how many people get 14 days out of every 28 off? 14 days that I can spend doing whatever I want, which in this case is enjoying my adorable daughter? Not to mention, this job is so stress-free that my days off (so far) are being spent in a great mood, actually enjoying myself, rather than coming home from work every day cranky and tired and inadvertently taking my mood out on my daughter and husband.

Everyone is different of course, and I’ve only had one rotation so far so I can’t definitively judge, but it’s looking good so far. I really think this job might be the start of something good. If nothing else, it will allow us to ditch some debt that we’ll be ridiculously happy to see the backside of…we’re coming for you, student loans!

Now if I could just squeeze the writing in there somewhere as well, I’d be doing great.