that's me - Stephanie Boman!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Speaking of grass

What's it like on the other side? What really happens to writing-friend relationships when a writer signs with an agent? This is how I imagine it.

Newly Agented Writer (N.A.W.) is blown to smithereens with happiness at good fortune when agent comes a'callin'. After telling every live human within the vicinity, N.A.W. goes online to tell the rest of her world: the writing community she's become a part of (this may include forums, critique groups/partners, and blog friends, etc.). Everyone does the happy dance for joy that one of them has crossed over...proving that yes, it is still possible to be a nobody and get picked up; offering on-the-cuspers around the world hope.

What I would like to know is what transpires after that.

Let me tell you this first: as a nonagented writer and hopeful on-the-cusper I often feel another emotion besides sheer joy when I hear of an acquaintance's success: jealousy. Don't get me wrong - my happiness for that person is genuine - I truly am happy and share in their joy, often tearing up with an overflow of good feelings for them, but there is another side of me that says "Sheesh! When's it going to be my turn?"

I have to admit this extends beyond agent signing - I feel this dual emotion when N.A.W. receives their advances and arcs, finds their write up in the publisher catalog, sees their book put on Amazon and finally holds their published novel. It is not an overwhelming, burning, green-eyed jealousy...more of an, "aw, I wish
I had 300 fans entering contests to win my ARC." If it were me, and I pray fervently that I will have to have to deal with this issue someday, I think going from one of the gang scribbling away and waiting for success to one who has attained it as something that will feel awkward.

Can you be uber-thrilled at your own success and still sympathize with those who are no longer in the same boat as you? Or do you not sympathize so much once you're over the hump?
I know there are individuals who still advocate and sympathize with the cuspers when they could so easily ride off into the published sunset. Sara Zarr seems to be empathetic, but then, maybe seven years of submitting will make you that way. Certainly, one gets to know the pre-agented community better with a long journey than say, someone who gets picked up the first week they send out queries *shoots (benign) daggers of envy*. I certainly wouldn't want published authors to feel guilty for their success...most of them spent their time in the trenches like the rest of us. I also do not wish to stop hearing of their successes, every step of the way - it does give me hope. I just wonder what it does to the dynamics of your relationship with non-agented/published friends. No one should feel obligated to stick around a community they don't feel comfortable in - but surely, the majority of writers had at least one person close to them that was going through the same process and must deal with the evolution that thus ensues.

Now, there is a whole other discussion that has gone on before about being able to vent about the post-agented process, feeling that some may think the person shouldn't whine, but be thankful to have an agent...but this post is long enough, so we won't go into that.
And I don't even want to try to imagine what it would be like to be at Laurie Halse Anderson or Libba Bray status.


Theresa Milstein said...

Yesterday, my post touched on this subject. If I don't know someone, and it seems like it happened quickly, I get jealous. But if it's someone I know and respect, I cheer! If it's someone I knew whom I didn't think was a good writer or not ready... I fear to know how I'll handle that.

Laurie Halse Anderson toiled for years. I saw her speak at a conference, and she brought along her stack of rejections.

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