Monday, July 07, 2008

Cool Stuff

That last post was kind of dark, though I didn't mean for it to be. From my perspective, it was kind of a "that's life" train of thought, but the subject matter was melancholy, and I try not to ride that train for long. So I want to share some exciting news.

I mentioned before that I read several agent, editor, and writer's blogs, some more consistently than others. Evil Editor's blog is one I read just about every day, same with Janet Reid, Nathan Bransford, and a few others. I read the blogs of some writers with whom I'm friendly (some damn good friends, too).

A couple of weeks ago I was checking the blog of one of the agents I follow. I was scrolling down, looking at her side bar having read the posts already, and saw that she lists the conferences she'll be attending. I was surprised to see that one of the conferences is only about 90 miles from me. I was immediately intrigued.

I followed the link to the conference website, checked the dates and the sessions in which this agent will be involved. I also read the descriptions of the different workshops being held. One immediately caught my attention. You can submit the first 25 pages of your manuscript to be critiqued by a faculty member of a nearby university, or one of the editors or agents that will be at the conference. That would be cool, to get a professional opinion of the WIP from someone in the publishing profession, and spend 30 minutes getting skewered by them. A face-to-face with someone who can smash my dreams with a pitiful shake of the head, or send me into orbit with an encouraging word.

Unfortunately, the deadline for submitting my work for this particular workshop had passed about five days earlier. No big deal, I would still go to the conference, if for nothing more than to attend the agent's sessions, and maybe try for a chance encounter in the hotel bar and offer to buy her a drink and happen to have several copies of the the first 50 pages nearby, in the event she finds my conversation so enchanting that she asks for some pages. I've heard it can happen at these conferences. It's bad form to ask the agent to read your pages, but you definitely want to have them available if she asks to see them.

So, I called the conference organizer and asked if I could register over the phone. No problem, they take Visa. I tell her I want the half-days for this particular agent's sessions. I tell her that I plan to query this agent when my WIP is complete, and it would be cool to meet her beforehand.

Wonderful, she says. All signed up. Is there anything else?

Well, I said, I wanted to do the manuscript workshop, but the deadline has passed. She says no problem, she hasn't sent the materials off yet. If I can email her the pages that day, she'll still get me in. Cool, excellent, yes sign me up for that. Great, she says. Would you like to do it with (The Agent)?


I can pick?

Hell, yeah, let me do it with her!

So here I am. Registered, paid, and the pages sent.

What the fuck have I done?

I mean, I think the pages are fairly polished, I've been shining them up for a while now, but still. The Agent. Seriously. What the fuck have I done?

This particular agent (I'm not trying to be mysterious, I just don't want to jinx the meeting, not that I'm superstitious or anything) is not known for her gentle handling of us wannabes. At least, not from what I gather reading her blog. She's respectful, but she isn't going to sugarcoat her critique. If you can't handle her opinion, don't ask her for it. Okay, I guess I've asked for it. In a big way. Maybe the drinks should come before the consultation. Lots of them.

It's a strange, pleasant mix of emotions. Excitement blended with apprehension, hope stirred up with dread.

There are many variations of what I might hear from The Agent. Anything from laughter followed by "Oh, you were serious?" to "Send me the full when it's finished."

Realistically, it will probably be somewhere between the two, hopefully toward the "this is pretty good" end of the spectrum.

Whatever happens, I have a feeling it will be an experience I'm not likely to forget. I'm looking forward to it. The ultimate reality check. Pretty cool stuff.


At 5:44 AM , Blogger blogless troll said...

What the fuck have you done?!

Good luck, dude. I'm sure it'll be a great experience for you. If they're the same pages you let me read, you've got nothing to worry about.

At 5:47 PM , Blogger Robin S. said...

This is so great - you're gonna shine, honey. I know you are.

At 6:12 PM , Blogger Wonderwood said...

Hey BT! Thanks for the encouragement. They are the same pages you read, only they've been tightened up somewhat since then, hopefully improved. I guess I'll find out in a couple of weeks.

Thanks, Robin, I appreciate the vote of confidence. I feel pretty okay about those pages, but this will be the first time I've had someone "in the biz" look at my work. Can't help but be somewhat nervous. It'll be interesting, either way. I hope it's in a good way.

At 12:42 PM , Blogger Conduit said...

The few chapters of yours I read over at Crapometer tell me you've got every chance of impressing this agent. There is no question that you write with skill and quality. You've got that side nailed.

What I've learned, particularly in the last six months, is that an agent or editor's response to a piece of writing is more about connecting at a gut level than anything else. If you've got the craft down, which I believe you have, that only leaves the intangible resonance agents occasionally talk about. You write with a distinctive voice, as I remember, and your only hurdle is if that voice speaks to this individual agent or not. If it does, great, they'll ask to see it when it's done. If not, you'll get some valuable critique. You win either way.

At 5:24 PM , Blogger Wonderwood said...

Hey, Stuart, thanks for the pep talk. I appreciate your insight, it confirms what I had come to believe from reading the agent blogs. If the story or voice doesn't connect with her, it doesn't necessarily mean it won't connect with someone else. What I really hope I don't hear is, "Ah, have you ever actually read a book?"

Funny thing is, I've already made some changes to the pages I sent two weeks ago. Nothing major, removed a couple of words, broke a semi-long paragrah into three short ones, stuff like that, but still, makes me wonder why I didn't see it sooner (and what else I might have missed).

I hope all is going well with you and your project. From reading your blog, sounds like you're busier than a one armed paper-hanger. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

At 8:21 PM , Blogger GutterBall said...

Dude, that is AWESOME! *crosses fingers* I'll be rooting for you from hundreds of miles away...and envying you a little, too. Heheh.

You go, WW. I am SO impressed!

And if it's the story I'm thinking of, and you've polished further since I read it, then yes, your only obstacle is that knee-jerk gut reaction that you have no control over. Like a guy in a movie said, you can only obsess over what you control. Everything else, you have to leave to The Infinite.

I have every faith in you, man. I'll be praying!

At 4:50 PM , Blogger Robin S. said...

Hey, Wood.

I'm thinking about you - and wishing you every singel ounce of good luck there is in the world this weekend!!!!

You deserve it, my friend. You're good, and it's your time.

At 2:03 PM , Blogger Wonderwood said...

Finally back in town.

Hey, GB! Thanks for the vote of confidence, I appreciate it. I'm a little anxious about it. You know, borderline queasy.

By the way, it's not this weekend, it's next weekend. Don't sweat it, Robin, I'll put those thoughts in the Good Fortune bank and pull them out next Friday.


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