Thursday, August 19, 2010

why searching for an agent is kind of like the high-school dating scene

1. Way Too Much Lusting from Afar--Okay, maybe *lusting* is too strong a word, but if you've seen how badly agents get swarmed at a writer's conference, you might agree that months, maybe years of unrequited lust has been going on at some sentient, albeit intellectual level. Basically, agents (and editors, but that's another whole level of hysteria best saved for another post) are the rock stars of the writing world, and we writers are their groupies. Which leads to...

2. Awkward Conversation--Maybe it's just me (or the situation--see above), but when I finally get a chance to talk to agents in person, I don't know what to say. Instead of swiftly pitching my elevator line, I accidentally use phrases like "um, yeah" and "dude" while discussing the merits of local taco joints and coconut martinis. Or--even worse, if the crush is really bad--I just totally clam up altogether. Oy. Like I said--high school all over again.

3. Getting Naked Together Too Soon--Yeah, my metaphors are twisted, but it's true! As writers, we often show the most coveted agents our manuscripts before they're ready for real-world consumption, leading to...

4. Subsequent Groveling--Like, I know I threw up in your hair and wrecked your dad's car, but pleeeeeeeease give me another chance!!! Sometimes agents do give us another chance, but there's also the very scary (and very real) possibility of getting blown off. I mean, hey--it's not like there's a shortage of writers out there.

5. Going Steady with the Wrong Person--Even if we make it through all the gut-wrenching hurdles (query letters, partial requests, full requests, phone call appointments) and finally receive an offer of representation, it's possible to choose someone who doesn't wind up being our soulmate. In a multiple-offer situation, maybe one agent sells herself better than another. Or maybe Agent B is more humble and modest than Agent A, but in our inexperience and naivete, we don't know any better and make an unfortunate decision. Maybe Agent A isn't a bad person--in fact, you like them a lot on a personal level--but you'd rather just be friends. Leading to...

6. Psyche-Destroying Breakups--Let's face it: breaking up sucks, no matter how much you know it has to be done. Confidence falters, you're scared to jump back into the dating scene, and it's easier to stay home watching The Bachelorette than put on a little black dress and get your butt to the party. Because now you're back at square one: Lusting from Afar.

8 comments:

Suzanne Casamento said...

This post is pure genius! I love it. Your twisted analogies really ring true. Unfortunately. ;)

Marc Luber said...

Ara: Suzanne is right - this is great. The hunt for an agent is a brutal process. I've watched others go through it and give them a ton of credit. I briefly experienced the craziness after creating a music TV program for the college market way back when...and can say that anyone who comes out of the process with their sanity has achieved a lot!

lil kim said...

GREAT post. all too true. I had that exact experience at the SCBWI conference. Looks like you got a lot out of it!

Cat Winters said...

This is hilarious, Ara! Perhaps one day you should write a humorous book about the grueling world of struggling writers.

Anne M Leone said...

Love this, it's so true! I'm definitely at Stage 6. =)

Ara Burklund said...

Aw, thanks, everyone! Glad you like it. Such a scary process, looking for an agent!

adrienne said...

Funny! Those analogies are brilliant.

Ara Burklund said...

Thanks, Adrienne! I loved your driver's ed post the other day. Too funny! : )