Meet Michelle Johnson, my new literary agent! As of October 12, 2012, she has agreed to represent me to publish my 100,000 word science-fiction novel, "Visitor."
Michelle is a Jr. Literary Agent with the Corvisiero Literary Agency, a rapidly rising star in the sparkling sky of publishing.
Visitor has a bumpy history. I wrote it around 15 years ago or thereabouts as an 80,000 word novel meant to open the doors for a first-time author. You see, I tended to write...a lot bigger stories, and was unable to find an agent to represent them. Of course it couldn't have been my writing, because I was so perfect (wincing) and decided this was the angle required.
So, I wrote Visitor, and I wrote it short. I wrote it fast. I wrote it badly. Barely reading it through after completion, it was making the rounds, and rejected almost as fast as I licked the stamps (yes, this was quite a few years ago when we had to do that, for those who might be confused.)
Fast forward to early 2012, with several more failed projects behind me. I blamed the agents, I blamed the publishers, and I blamed bad luck for all my failures. But there was someone else missing from my list of blame....So, I decided I would ride the e-publishing wave to success. It was the new big thing, everyone was doing it, and I wanted in on the ground floor, and I already had a completed manuscript to slap up on the web and start raking in the dollars!
I still can't explain what clicked in my head this time around, as I've always written in "waves" where I feverishly complete a project, desperately try to pitch it, then retreat into a corner sulking from my wounded pride, quivering from the darts of rejection. I was ready to go another round now that all the control was in my hands, no longer relying on some other entity to achieve my dream. And perhaps right there is the reason my eyes were opened this time.
I re-read Visitor with a fresh eye, but instead of thinking an agent or editor would mold my amazing creation into coherent form, I realized I'd have to do it myself. But the story was simply awful. And there was no longer an invisible crutch between the world and myself, all I had to do was upload the text and click a few buttons, and there it would be, in all its nauseating incompleteness.
That's when I realized I could not allow my name to be associated with this story if I ever wanted to succeed as an author, and it finally sunk in that if I wasn't ready to put my name behind it, then why would an agent do so? That's the click that changed my attitude, and probably my future. I rewrote the ending, came back to the beginning, and rewrote that too, moving forward until I reached the point where I had started. But then many things had changed, so I rewrote what I rewrote, then finished, and began editing. And editing. And editing.
Writing is the "3 ting circus", with my compliments to Abbot and Costello's bit, "Marriage is 3 ring circus. First comes the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, then the suffering."
With writing, its "first comes the writing, then the editing, and then the waiting."
My rewrites went up to 118,000 words, then with an icy heart I went through it and hacked it down to 108,000. I hired a professional editor to help see things I could not find myself, and finally landed around 100,000 words. I submitted my query to Michelle, and waited. In all honesty, considering the time averages, Michelle didn't take very long to request the full, then to offer representation.
When she made the proposal to me the other day, I almost fell off my chair, and to be honest the reality of it is still sinking in. I've written a good half dozen stories (ok, they need work, I realize that now), tried for years to find a single person who believed in me and my dream, and failed time after time. It's still too much for me to accept that my first hurdle has been met and vaulted, and that I now no longer walk this dream alone. From the bottom of my heart to the depths of my soul, I thank Michelle for offering this opportunity to me, and moving me one rung further up the ladder to a dream I've nursed since childhood.
So, the happy update is that Visitor is now professionally represented, and I'm working on the revisions needed to complete the final polish. After that its out of my hands and into Michelle's capable ones, and then more waiting begins as she pitches Visitor to the publishers.
I'll keep busy in the meantime, because I've always been a writer, and a writer writes. Only now, I have a shining beacon of hope ahead of me, urging me to write now like I've never written before, because once I break through the "paper curtain" there is no longer the shadow of failure to hold me back.
But this time, I promise to follow Visitor's lead, and make sure my stories are truly ready first. (Not that Michelle would let me get away with it if they weren't!)