The Truth is Sometimes More Sweet than Bitter

So, I got a request this week for a partial.  YAY!!!! (Cue the applause!)  I won’t say who it was from, but I will say that it was based on a synopsis I submitted to an agent a little while ago that was requested off a pitch contest I entered (THANK YOU, Darcy Drake!!)  Today I am on cloud nine, but maybe not for the reason you think.

It’s an awesome feeling isn’t it?  Getting a request?  It’s even better when you’ve made it through a round or two of reviews and are still holding on.  But this particular request was even better than that for me.  It put a smile on my face wider than the Rio Grande, because this particular request came with something I value more than a shot at getting signed – priceless feedback from an agent.

You ever get a form rejection back, sigh, and say, “If they would just give me a clue as to what’s wrong with it, I could fix it.”?  Imagine that instead of that form you got a request, and inside that request the agent clearly pointed out the challenges of the characters and plot you created (priceless feedback #1), and also laid it on the line that if the execution of the story didn’t do this, the book would be a very hard sell (priceless feedback #2).

This is where I was this morning when I opened my email.  For some writers, receiving a request like this would send the butterflies of self-doubt rampant through their stomach and their veins until they become sick worrying that their story isn’t strong enough.  Others might not even care because…hey, I got a request!  But for me, this is a test – one I’ve been waiting for a long time for.  This is my moment of truth.

Ask anyone of my critique partners and they will tell you two things about me.  1) I’m a straight shooter and 2) I don’t pick the easy path.  I like a challenge.  I like taking characters whom you might initially write off due to their past actions and redeeming them.  I like finding the gray area between black and white, because there usually is one and too often it’s not seen.  I’ll admit it’s not an easy thing to do; I’ve found myself banging my head onto a table on more than a few occasions.  But it’s the kind of book I write.  It’s my everlasting theme.  It’s what drives me to keep putting words down onto pages.

So when I opened this email today, I was not only extremely grateful this agent had been so open and honest with me, I was proud that through my synopsis, this agent had recognized the exact points and struggles that lead me to write this story in the first place.  This agent “got” what I was trying to do, and now the only question left to answer is — did I effectively pull it off?

I won’t lie – it makes me very nervous.  Since I’ve started writing I’ve known that the types of stories I gravitate toward aren’t easy to write and have worried that they would be a harder sell.  I’ve struggled in writing my queries, knowing that every single word I put down has to say exactly what I mean because I only have so many lines to point out that the most interesting part of a character is also the worst thing they’ve ever done and convince an agent that they are still likeable.

It is difficult.  Sometimes when I’ve had a dry run on queries or submissions I wonder if maybe I could find an easier path and write stories that aren’t so challenging.  And then I get an email like the one I received today and it gives me hope again.  Maybe this partial won’t lead anywhere.  Maybe that book won’t ever get published, or even the book I’m writing now which I know will face the same challenges.  But at least I know that I’m not crazy.  I’m onto something, here.  And maybe, just maybe, I can pull it off.  Imagine the payoff at the end when I do.

So thank you again, Unnamed Agent, for taking a chance and making a request.  Thank you for your knowledgeable eyes into the world of publishing, and for your honesty and time — two things I know are hard for a busy agent to give.  And thank you most of all for teaching an unpublished author like me that there is something sweeter than receiving a request – it’s validation that with the proper execution, I just might be on the right track!


Jenna P.









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