Remember the unnamed literary agent who requested the fifty pages? And then the hundred and fifty more pages? Well--that's where the story ends. It Didn't Work Out, as they say. Which, really, is not something to lose any sleep over; most of these relationships don't work out, which is why it's so worth celebrating when they do. All, the same, this is a lot like being out on a date, parking somewhere, getting to second base, starting to wonder if you might need a condom, hoping you in fact have a condom someplace, trying to discreetly check purse pockets without interrupting the main event, and then suddenly the other person says, "I just remembered I have to be someplace. Sorry, it was nice meeting you," and gets up and leaves. No matter what you do next, you feel about an inch high and covered in mud. And--oh hey, you did have a condom, right here next to that couple of useless pens that always make their way to the bottom of your purse. Too bad you don't need it anymore.
Seriously: The whole getting-an-agent thing is exactly, exactly like the more perverse parts of dating. Both ways. It starts out with letters, like love notes back and forth. Then, if you get past that phase (and I did once! I did, although it was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), you start exchanging presents. Then phone calls, and sooner or later you have to sign the pre-nup. (That's the contract of representation, in case this analogy's breaking down.) Having signed that, everything's grand, right? Wrong. You're just getting started. There's still the taking-on of the various monsters of relationship hell (this would be the editors at the publishing houses of choice, ha-ha), more presents, more phone calls, and, if you are incredibly lucky, you sell a book to somebody. That's the saying I-do part. Now you're joined at the hip by money, a far stronger force than love if ever there was one. Now you've managed to get each other into bed. (Yes, you waited for marriage--not out of morality but just because that's how this analogy rolls, kids. You don't like my analogy, write your own.) Hope you like each other, because it's just going to get more interesting from here. Sometimes it all works out. Sometimes your agent dumps you (and his entire client list) to run for Congress. And sometimes it all fizzles out at second base, leaving you frustrated as hell and looking for a brick wall against which to pound your head.
So what do I do now? Well--so far I'm doing what I was doing before. Writing query letters, dodging Scaley and Fang,* and hoping to get another hot date again soon. As a dear friend of mine pointed out this very afternoon, there has to be something there, because someone saw it, and if there's something there, than someone else will see it too. It's just a question of who, and when, and so I'm not supposed to stop submitting places until I've submitted to everyone in the world. Tall order, considering we hit seven billion humans yesterday, but I figure I can probably scale it down to the ones who speak and read English, just for, you know, simplicity.
*For those of you who haven't been introduced, Scaley is the T. Rex of Anxiety, and Fang is the Velociraptor of Sudden Panic. They live in my kitchen and love to hang around when I'm writing query letters. Why query letters are of any interest to a dinosaur, I have no idea, but all I have to do is type the word "query" and there they are. If anybody wants them, they're for sale. Cheap. Free, even. Call me.