Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Big News

I'll have to make this brief, since I want to be working on my novel during my son's precious nap time.

I have officially heard from my agent. I broke down and sent her a very casual, "hi, just checking to make sure you got my manuscript, I'm available to discuss it whenever you're ready, thanks for reading," email on Friday and on Monday afternoon I came home from lunch to a long, detailed reply. K said she'd read my novel over the weekend and had enjoyed it. Woot! Then she talked about similar books on the market and encouraged me to read them and become more savvy on what the YA readers expect and like. She followed that up with several very specific and spot-on suggestions for revision. "This draft just needs a little of work to get the details just right. YA readers are tougher judges than you’d think!" she wrote.

And then: "I’d love to represent this for you if you’re up for making revisions. Congratulations on completing what I imagine is a very early draft of a much tighter, stronger novel."

These last few weeks as I have been waiting for her reply I've imagined three possibile responses: 1) "this book is not my thing, I just wasn't grabbed by it, best of luck" (which is fairly normal agent speak) 2) "the book is good but needs some work before I'll try to sell it" and 3) "the book is fantastic, it blew my socks off, I've sent it to all the biggest publishing houses and they've already sent you this ginormous check." I had ruled out number 1, simply because I have some degree of faith in the story I'm telling and I know K likes my writing, plus she had already seen/liked the synopsis for my novel and asked to read it. I understood that number 2 was fairly likely. But I was really, unreasonably hopeful for number 3, the way you buy a lottery ticket and sit waiting for the numbers to be announced on TV.

And darn it, you never have those right numbers.

So when I read K's email I was hit with a surge of pure adrenaline and a crazy mix of elation and disappointment. It took me hours to smooth myself out. In the end, when I floated back down to rational thought, I was left with this: this was a very good response. K ultimately wants to sell my book as much as I do (or at least half as much as I do, which is plenty), and she needs to make sure it's solid enough to make a real, honest-to-goodness attempt at it. Her job is not to pat me on the back and tell me how great my book is. Her job is to sell it.

So I am back to the draft, every single day between the hours of 2 and 5. Revision Round 3, which yes, does make this a fairly early draft. I have to remind myself that I started writing this novel in March. Just six months ago. And I may still have a long journey ahead of me before I move to the next stage. I need to be patient.

J recently pointed out to me that my last blog post was a tad melodramatic, me going on and on about waiting for K when she'd only had the manuscript for 3 weeks, which is a very short waiting period in agent-time. Plus, our kid didn't really smell funny and there was no leaning tower of dishes in our sink, thank you very much. So here, all joking aside: I need to be patient. And hammer away on my book. And then be patient some more.

In the meantime, par K's suggestion, I got my college roommate and bestest bud Amy, who is a high school math teacher, to round me up a group of students to read the manuscript. I am eager to see how that turns out, as most of the people who've read the book at this point are people my own age or older.

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