Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am not your Mommy

Let's start with the basics.

All writers are neurotic. Every single writer I know is neurotic about their own writing. I am neurotic about my own writing. (For example, I can tell you that one short story of mine has been at a particular magazine for 121 days, and it has not yet been rejected--every single day I check the mailbox for my freaking rejection.)

"But I'm not neurotic", you say. "I'm perfectly normal and well-adjusted and I would never dare be upset about my own writing!"

Sorry, you are neurotic. You get nervous about your writing going out into the world; you stalk agents and editors at conferences; you feel that the world hates you, if your e-mail from your editor/agent/publicist is not returned RIGHT AWAY. These are all neuroses of some form or the other, and I have NEVER met a writer that doesn't suffer from them in some way. Show me a writer who's not neurotic and I will show you a flying pig.

Ok, so now that we've established that we are all neurotic, let's go over a ground rules list of things that agents don't do for their neurotic writers. This is where the post title comes in because let me tell you, a lot of writers have no grasp of what is proper to expect of an agent.

  1. Do not expect me to call you weekly, to remind you to write your novel. Get off your butt and write your own novel.
  2. Do not expect me to return your e-mail the night before Thanksgiving, when everyone else in publishing is off at 3pm that day.
  3. Do not expect me to hold your hand, if you feel nervous that an editor has not replied yet and your novel has only been with that editor for one or two weeks. Hug your pet instead.
  4. Do not expect me to send out your novel, if I think it's not ready. I'll tell you if it's bad, and I also will tell you how to fix it. When I send out a piece of your writing, I'm staking my reputation on it too, not just yours.
  5. Do not expect me to know that you called, if you do not leave a message. No message=no phone call back.
  6. Do not expect me to spend hours on the phone with you because you feel that you are *that* important. I have other clients too.
  7. Do not expect me to pick up my phone after 7 pm at night or during the weekends, unless we have expressly prearranged this. Am I going to call you at 10 pm at night? I don't think so; show me the same courtesy.
I could go on from here, but I think everyone gets the point. =)


Jodi Meadows said...

Authors are weeeeird.


kiwi said...

Apologies, Jenny.

And and best of luck with the sub. We neurotic types empathize with ya' :)

joycemocha said...

It's not just people writing professionally who get neurotic about writing. I've spent an entire trimester convincing kids with writing problems that yes, they can write something. That despite spelling problems, page-long sentences (with no paragraphs), and other editing issues, they CAN WRITE.

Eventually we'll discover the wonderful world of editing. But for now, I'm afraid to take the red pen to their work, or have them critique it themselves, because so many of them are just getting started with the concept of getting words onto paper in an organized fashion.

Demon Hunter said...

Well, since I don't have an agent as of yet because I am rewriting my novel again, this is good stuff to know. I thought all writers knew this stuff. I had an agent ask me to call her and I was still hesistant about "bothering" her on the weekend.

Lee Ann Ward said...

Jenny, you mean you're a human being? No way, get out! I thought all agents were robots! Wow, you'd think professional writers would know how to be exactly that--professional. But, hey, I'll make you a deal...sign me and I won't drive you crazy! :)> But seriously, those of us who are still searching for representation would love the opportunity NOT to drive our agent bonkers... And, hey, I have no problem simply hugging my fat, princess kitty when my neurotic behavior rears its ugly head (I haven't written a simple paragraph without her tucked under my desk for the past 5 years anyway!).

Cathy in AK said...

I second Lee Ann. Sign me too and I promise not to bug you : )
Heck, I won't even get upset if you forget the 4 hour time difference and call me at 5am when it's 9am there!

We may be a neurotic lot, but common sense and common courtesy should prevail.

Good luck and wishes for a speedy reply on the sub. (Got you beat on time--I've been waiting for a solid answer for twice that long. Yes, I've given up on that one.)

Ty said...

Heck, I can't even get my mom to do all that stuff, let alone thinking about asking an agent.

Wendie O said...

Writers actually talk to editors and agents? Actually stalk them? I'm lucky if my brain lets me get out an "eep" around editors and agents.

A lot of us are more likely to stand frozen like a statue near them, with a mind that can't think of anything to say. When we do manage to get control of our body again, we walk slowly away.


Rebecca Thomas said...

I'm simply too busy to be that neurotic about my writing (which probably explains a lot about my writing now that i think about it). Heh.

I'm sorry people aren't similarly too busy to do anything but harass you.