Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Agents Catch Up on their Mail in December

Because agents are out of the office, some of them, for the Holidays, December is catch-up time for them. So the week after Christmas, when I was trying to move, I got like four rejection letters.

That was just what I needed.

I decided to forget about that manuscript and go on to the next. I was going to "put it under the bed", so to speak, and I even dragged the file off the desktop and dumped it in the archive folder.

And then I moved to Las Vegas, and being in the actual place where my stay-at-home mommy CIA agent story takes place, I suddenly got lots of inspiration about it, and completely re-outlined the entire beginning. I realized that for the story to really suck the reader in, it had to be extremely personal to Maggie. Not just that an organization she had fought previously was there and her family was in danger, but that the son of the only man she ever killed was there with the bad guys--and he recognized her and is personally out for his revenge he's been wanting for 5 years. It makes it heavily a story about fathers and sons--the two antagonists are men who lost their fathers, both of whom died in pursuing their unorthodox work, and about how the men want to connect with their fathers and are mistakenly using violence to do so. I also fixed a plot problem that was rather glaring.

Then today the neighbor brought over our mail, which was stuck in his box by mistake.

Another rejection, from the last full ms I sent out before Christmas. I knew it was a rejection without opening it because it came in the self-addressed letter I put in the package, and it's my understanding that if an agent wants to represent you, they call. So if you see that envelope with your own handwriting on it, it's a no.

I almost didn't open it. I've had a pretty crappy week, and a very difficult month what with moving and all, and everyone getting sick.

But I can't just throw away mail unopened. I even open every piece of junk mail I get.

So I opened it.

It was only half a rejection! It was actually a long, very detailed letter about what worked and what didn't in my novel, and what I could do to fix it, and it ended with an invitation to rewrite and resubmit. This may not seem exciting to you, but it is extremely exciting to me. Because her comments jived with me, and with the more vague comments I've received in the past, and I think I agree with her and I think I know how to fix the manuscript. And all the agent blogs I read say that when they say they'd like to see the changes, they mean it. They've already put work into the manuscript, and are testing the waters to see if you are willing to change your work, how good you are at editing, and how open you are to hard work, as well as testing to see if you can go from potentially good to great.

So I dragged it back to my desktop.

Back to work, this time the carrot of possible representation dangling in front of me.

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