26th June 2015
This week I attended a panel discussion among several top-tier writers at Aspen's summer conference, the very conference that supplied me with my agent all those years ago (after MANY years of being marched by teenage table-seaters out to yet another agent looking at their watch waiting for these endless 15 minute sessions to be over - it was horrible, so much so that I have come to associate the conference with pain and stupidly avoid it. Well, I'm a published writer now - I don't need it! Ha!)
In the picture below, guess which one is the agent...
The one in the suit is probably saying, "Yeah, send me the whole novel," leaving out the subtext which reads "...and I'll find someone in the office to read it, or at least ten pages of it." And then about three months later, the rejection comes.
Actually, judging by the look on the prospective-client's face in this picture, it looks as though the agent is just telling him right up front, "I'd like to say that your writing stinks, but that would be bad PR, so I'll give you my card and, really, send me something else in the future, assuming that future never comes."
One year at my annual set of meetings, I talked to one agent from San Francisco who was very enthusiastic about my ten-page offering and told me to send him three of my novels (if I could remember the sod's name, I would expose him here, but I had to forget him in a bad way.) After three months, I started to call his office. He was never there, according to his secretary. I e-mailed him a few times and got no response. Nada. Yes, it's a roller-coaster ride this writing business, when it is a business, when you have to get out from your writing cave and market the damn stuff you're producing out of the guts of your bleeding heart.
Andre Dubus was on the panel. He wrote House of Sand and Fog, a book I liked very much, made later into an outstanding film. He's an animated guy who cried when one of the other panelists read a passage about losing her five-year old daughter. I'm glad he cried. I'm glad that fame hasn't removed the bloody heart from his sleeve. It's the writer's curse, that, the displaced heart.