Friday, June 19, 2009

Insomnia Strikes Again

One forty-nine AM and I'm wide awake. It's been a long time since I've been hit with this kind of insomnia, that I'm tired, but no matter how many times I toss and turn in bed I can't quite seem to still my mind insomnia.

But I don't care. It's at least for a good reason. A book, of course. But not just any book. A manuscript. A partial to be exact.

I admit, when I started interning at a literary agency, I was so excited to find something amazing - find the next Twilight! Of course, that's unlikely to say the least. And after days, or weeks, or even months of not finding anything to really get excited about, the reality of the unlikelihood sets in. Granted, the more time I spent at the agency and the more I volunteered to read for the agents, the more I read, and the more I liked. A few times I even got really excited about a project an agent was working on, a client they were about to sign, or a manuscript that was getting passed around the office because it was THAT good.

And I'm not trying to put anything down. There are so many talented writers out there, but finding a manuscript that you're excited about, that you just fall in love with, is like finding a diamond in the rough. Because let's face it, sometimes when you're reading a hundred queries a day, everything starts to sound the same. It starts to feel like everybody's written a thriller about a terrorist that they think would make a great blockbuster movie or everybody's written an epic fantasy novel that comes in at a whopping 400,000 words and comes complete with wizards, elves, goblins, dwarfs, and an outcast on the run with a princess, and they just happen to fall in love. And just about everybody mentions in their query that they're the next Stephenie Meyer or the next JK Rowling, if only someone would give them a chance, and that's okay, because somebody is. Like every other agent, or assistant, or intern, I want to find that somebody, because I love to read, and more than that, I love to read stuff that's amazingly good.

So when something in a query jumps out as original and the writing is organized and descriptive, and some quality in the letters stands out enough for me to pause and think "wow, that could be really good" I jump at the chance to request a partial (the first 40-50 pages usually). And most often, when the partials come I rip the envelop open and dive in head first hoping it's going to knock my socks off.

But so far, I haven't had that. There have been some good stories, ones that I enjoyed reading, (I mean, I read for a living, how much better does it get than that?) and I sent editorial letters back to the authors making suggestions for what I thought could make their writing or their story better. I put a lot of my time and effort into giving the best possible advice I could give because I'd love for them to revise and resubmit and be able to stay "Wow, I helped make this amazing." But since January, there hasn't been anything that really kept me up at night.

Until now.

In May, I opened a letter addressed to an agent who hasn't been in the office for personal reasons and read her query. This agent isn't technically open to submissions, but we have similar tastes and rather than just reject it, I read the query first to see what it was about. And I almost did reject it, but I paused and read it again and thought "hmm, [Agent] might actually really like this" so I popped in to another agent's office and asked her to read it and see what she thought. She glanced at it, looked at the fact that it was YA and 140,000 words and wrinkled her nose.

Agent: It's kind of long.
Me: I know, but it looks dark and edgy.
Agent (after reading): Yeah, it looks like something [Agent] might go for.
Me: Should I go ahead and request it or forward it to [Agent]?
Agent: Eh, go ahead and request it, and see if it's any good. If it is, forward away, if not, just reject it.

So I sent off my request for a partial manuscript in the SASE and waited. A few weeks later, it came.

However, so did a hundred other things I needed to get done, and the partial went into a pile of reading on my desk and it went on the back burner because my boss and the other agents at my agency all have a lot of clients who do a lot of writing and that's priority. So I didn't get a chance to look at it until last night.

And I was floored, because I LOVED it.

Immediately, I emailed the author and requested the full, because I've read the first six chapters and I'm dying to know what's going to happen next. I didn't hear back from the author today, even though I checked my email and hit the "refresh" button a hundred times, at least, so when I got home this evening, I read through the chapters again and concentrated on writing down some notes, something I couldn't do last night while I was page turning as fast as I could. And now I've spent the last two hours in bed turning the characters over in my mind and just trying to dream up what might be happening to them.

Hope for me, I'll get the rest of the manuscript tomorrow...

5 comments:

robin_titan said...

I hope you get the rest of the manuscript. :)

whoa!
you're not going to believe this but the word I got is "insomych"
sounds a LOT like insomnia huh?

:D I hope you can get some sleep if not get lost in Angel reruns like I am. I couldn't sleep either. I woke up at 4am and just can't go back to sleep.

robin_titan said...

btw--I totally want your job hehe

word-cattab

suzie said...

I've left a few comments and the word I've left has been eerily similar to the topic.

But I haven't heard back yet from the author, but while I was at work today, I gushed over the story, and if I still haven't heard back by Monday, I'll call and ask if the manuscript is still up for representation

Steph said...

Ah, that's rough Suzie! I hope she emails you back really, really soon. Would you be reading it with the intent to rep her or are you going to forward it, if you really, really love it? I'm just wondering if you can take on clients of your own at this point. But, best of luck! I'm keeping you in my thoughts. *crosses fingers*

Steph

suzie said...

I'm not sure. We kind of have a "hole" right now in what we represent. The agents who rep middle grade and young adult aren't really taking on new clients/new projects so I might be able to take it on.

If I really really love it, I think I would be able to rep it with another agent. Where I'd do most of the work but they'd "guide" me along.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?