Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stopping to Smell the...

We tend to wax on a bit about those aspects of publishing that may seem unimportant to some, even those in the industry; however, they are important to us, and this blog’s purpose is to offer our perspectives so that those who consider working with us can get an idea of who we are and what we are about.

We have worked with many types of writers in the past nine years, many of whom decided to get into writing for publication for the wrong reasons. We have talked with writers who are determined, ambitious, cynical, hopeful, wonderful, obnoxious, and all places in between, and at any given time, they probably think the same of us. Fair’s fair. We rarely, though, meet happy writers, at least not those other than our clients. By happy here, I mean content, and not just content with their writing careers, either. The innate need to write can overtake our better sense; the fickle muse can be hard to control. However, more often the desire to be published, not just to write, is usually the culprit in creating the most undue stress. It is one thing to become so engrossed in getting your great idea on paper that you accidentally stay up half the night; it is quite another to spend excessive amounts of time researching and preparing submission packages and sending e-mails and recording queries and rejections and calculating your success rate in an effort to cultivate a publishing life while real life briskly passes by.

This topic came up for two reasons. First, people have to have balance in their lives, and recently ours was disrupted by the loss of a beloved pet. She was the kind of cat who would have loved to have a little girl dress her up in doll clothes and play tea party with her; not that we ever did, mind you, but that was the kind of kitty she was. Even at sixteen, she loved attention and expected it regularly, as cats often do. We were happy to oblige.

This comes only a couple of months after the loss of our adored dog who, at eighteen, was more the kind of animal that you rather hoped you never collapsed around, just in case she was hungry. She was a great friend, just a little obsessed with food, that’s all. And she was a good watchdog, too, except for when she wasn’t paying attention, which was, in later years, most of the time. She loved getting attention and making noise for no reason—sort of like a politician—and she was a great companion to us both. Both of them will be sorely missed, although the politicians…not so much.

However, in the immortal words of John Adams, “Thank God, Bitty lives.” I’ve mentioned Bitty Kitty a couple of times on here, mainly because she threatened me if I didn’t. I don’t want to jinx her by pointing out that, bless her decrepit little soul, she’s still kickin’, but I don’t think you can jinx pure evil. Perhaps you can. In Bitty’s case, though, I wouldn’t wake her up to do it. Bitty, in her younger years, used to call 911 when we left the house, coughed up hairballs down our heating vents, and snuck into the query pile when no one was looking. If you got a particularly nasty rejection from us in 1994 or 2006, it was probably from her. It was the Chinese Year of the Dog, and she was in a very bad mood.

You might have noticed that I used the word “attention” twice above. Since their passing, it is not uncommon for me to look down by my computer expecting them to be there, where they always curled up to be next to us as we worked. They were always very good about reminding us when we had been on the computer too long by giving my hand a gentle nudge, rubbing my leg, or, in our doggy’s case, passing gas (My liver’s awake—dinner time!). Bitty just crawls up on the keyboard and goes to sleep, melting into the plastic and forcing us to shift various parts of her liquefied anatomy around to find specific keys or give up working altogether. She’s nothing if not dedicated to leisure.

Many times it is easy to forget that pets may be sitting patiently by while we offer our souls up to the written page. If you get caught up in your writing and skip a walk or two, it’s excusable; if you get caught up in the frenzy of trying to get published, it’s unconscionable. Pets are important; publishing may or may not be.

Humans are much the same as animals. They need lots of attention, which brings us to the other reason for this post: Mother’s Day. This is always a tough time of year for us, since neither of our mothers is with us anymore (we know what some of you are thinking, and, no, we didn’t sell them), and they played a significant role in our becoming readers and subsequently agents. They read to us when we were young because they thought it would be good for us. Was it ever.

Since most mothers won’t sleep under your computer or crawl in your lap to get your attention, we suggest sending flowers or at least giving Mom a call on the 13th just to say hello. Or, if you don’t have a mom, call Dad or a favorite aunt or a favorite teacher or your veterinarian just to say thanks. Someone had to teach you how to read, which means that, indirectly, someone taught you how to write as well. As the saying goes, the most avid readers are the best writers, and your most avid fan might be cooking your favorite dish or drooling at your feet at this very moment.

Happy Mother’s Day.