Monday, May 25, 2009

The Waiting Game... From the Other Side

I've been on the long end of waiting for a long.... long time.  We all have.  And just like me, everyone with queries, partials or fulls floating around in agent heaven wonder every single day, Why Haven't I Heard Anything?

It's the bane of our writer's existence, the waiting.  It's a torturous game of patience that not many of us win, at least not with our sanity intact ;)  But lately I've been trying to see it from the other side, and it's not so pretty.

I follow a few agents on Twitter.  They post funny blurbs, observations and advise.  Also the occasional link to bigger and better posts.  During one particular 'Tweet Session' I read a post from Colleen Lindsay that blew me away.  It was something along the lines of "My inbox has 1300 new messages! There has to be a better way to do this!"

What?  Excuse me?  Beg your pardon?  1-3-0-0  N-E-W e-m-a-i-l-s!!!! You have got to be kidding me!  How can you possibly weed through 1300 new emails?!?  

I tried to imagine what the breakdown of emails might look like.  Five or six hundred queries, a few hundred from industry connections, a hundred or so follow-ups... That's only around a thousand and I couldn't even think of anything else to add to the list.  

If it's hard for me to wait for a response, just try to picture how hard it must be to answer the 1,299 other people that hit 'send' around the same time I did. Then picture reading each and every email, while at the same time taking care of your current clients, reading requested submissions, and managing your day to day work.  How do they do it?  Do they ever sleep? See their families?  How do they keep track of the stuff they do request?  Will they remember me two months later when they finally make it to my manuscript at the bottom of their pile?

Putting myself in their shoes really helped to put things into perspective.  Am I going to stop worrying?  No.  Am I going to stop obsessively checking my email? Probably not.  But I'm going to try to be patient, because no matter how hard it is for me... some agent... somewhere... is looking at an inbox with 1-3-0-0 new emails!!! 

7 comments:

christinefonseca said...

So true, so true!!!

B.J. Anderson said...

I think about this, too, and you really have to feel sorry for the agents. I think that's when you realize it comes down to the idea of your book. You could have the most well-written, eloquent piece of work but if there's ten others in the pile just like yours, it's not going to get anywhere. That's why I try not to take rejections personally. They probably have to go through them at the speed of light.

Sigh. I guess that's why it's a good idea to read a lot. Good luck on the stuff you're waiting for! I've got a few of those out there myself . . .

ElanaJ said...

Holy cow, now I want to die. That is such a large number of emails, I can't even wrap my head around it. Le sigh.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Yeah I agree waiting is the worst, but when you think about what is happening on their end it does make it slightly more bearable!

Peter Rubie said...

I work with Colleen and I wanted to comment on something someone posted here. It's not about any one thing, such as the idea, or even, to a degree the writing. Now, I'm going to contradict myself, by pointing out that what always captures my attention is the VOICE of the piece. (So both idea and writing quality DO matter, of course, but in the service of a greater good -- character.) What grabs me and won't let go is the the voice of the narrator (3rd person, 1st person doesn't matter). It starts from word one, sentence one, paragraph one. I know INSTANTLY when I'm in the company of a writer of confidence who has created a character that is intriguing. Even if the character is a misogynistic crab (can anyone say House?)there is always something compelling, fascinating on the page that draws us into the stroy, perhpas despite ourselves, as we meet this person and in short order begin to appreciate the depths of the problem(s) he or she is about to endure. Hope this helps in some small way.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Bravo to you for the "other side" post. Im having a little good agent/bad agent debate at my place, but I'm in the rowboat with you. Agents are human, it IS a business, and for the majority, they are caring and real. Glad you left me bread crumbs to come read this.

And, bonus...Mr. Rubie's statement of how important voice & characterization are. Yay for me because my ms is all about those things. :)

Mandy said...

I just wanted to note that I have never actually queried Ms. Lindsay. She's closed to queries. This post was not meant to single any one agent out in particular. I assume they all have over-stuffed in boxes. I just happened to see Ms. Lindsay's post on Twitter and the sheer number of new messages made me stop and think!