Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Literary Agent to Author (or) Author to Literary Agent

Ever since I began my research into the ins and outs publishing I’ve noticed something about the world of literary agents that has left me perplexed and at times uneasy.
There are many literary agents who are also authors.  Now, which came first I cannot always tell.  Sometimes this feels like a conflict of interest to me, yet at others I can see how it might be an asset as well.  I think the deciding factor has to do with a couple details, which came first and what they’re publishing.
Let’s look at a couple different scenarios…
If the agent was an agent before becoming an author and the genre has to do with non-fiction publishing advice, I can totally see that working.  However, if they’re an agent and then somewhere along the line write a novel and get it published, I can’t help but say “huh?” 
Did they have to go through the query process and find an agent to represent them, or did they skip that and submit directly to publishers?  When do they find time to write, edit, and publish a novel while also being an agent to clients?  Will their focus be on one or the other in the future? 
This scenario leaves me with questions, and I’m not sure exactly how to feel about it.
Now let’s look at the opposite view.  Say an author of fiction or non-fiction who isn’t the type of writer to churn out one or two MS’s a year decides that they’d love to use their literary skills and connections to help others reach their publishing goals.  Ok, I can totally see how having gone through the process would help in your entire understanding of writing, writers and publishing.  I feel like this might be an asset as an agent.  I still can’t help but wonder how one might juggle the two jobs, but then lots of people do handle two jobs at once without issues.

After weighing the pros and cons of having an agent that’s published themselves I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it.  I’d love them to understand me as a writer, my processes, my struggles and my journey.  I honestly don’t know how I could do both jobs without one getting in the way of the other though.  How would my writing affect the way I represented other writing?  How would my agenting affect how and what I wrote?  I’m not sure I could separate the two and do either justice in the end.

So I’m curious.  How do you feel about agents that are authors or authors who turn into agents?  Do you think the jobs can co-mingle?  Do you have an agent/author?  How does that affect the way they represent you?
I’d love to hear your take on this subject, because I’m truly undecided.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Fall

The Fall
(A short drama about life and death and the spaces in-between)

I sat staring out at the rain falling steady on the wet asphalt.  Every twenty minutes or so another car would pass, spraying a glistening wave up under the yellow street light.  I was mesmerized by the drops that looked suspended in time under that glow.  Finally faint reddish light began to filter up from the horizon.  A grey, drizzly morning was beginning, half a world away from everything I once knew.  The glow on the horizon quickly disappeared into the thick layer of clouds.
Sunrise had been this brilliant glow, shining light into a previously dark world.  It gave an instant form and meaning to everything which had been hidden and lost.  Then that beautiful promise, that brilliant hope of a bright future, was put out, like turning off a switch.  The grey nothingness swallowed it whole, leaving only the dark misery of half light; worse than darkness.  At least in the dark black of night there had been the hope of a beauty to behold once the light finally did shine, but after the brilliant light is revealed and then so abruptly extinguished, all hope fades eternally and only misery is left behind.  Eternal grayness, the void of all hope.
My heart sank.  My soul gasped, but could no longer find the strength to breathe.  In this miserable endless world, where was the hope for me?  Some would say that I’d lived through so much already, why crack now?  Why not face this loss just like I had faced the rest of my life before it?  This was different though.   Before, my life was in the dark, living with that ever present hope of finding light.  Then my sunrise came and HE filled my world with brilliance and color.  I could see everything, even see myself for the first time.  Then the sudden engulfing grey stole my sun and left the eternal nothingness in which I now found myself drowning. 
I had to get out!  There must be a way out of the grey and back into the light.  But how?
What if my body drained slowly of its life?  Could I make my system so weak that it couldn’t heal itself?
That was it!  No one had to be involved and there needn’t be any big public witness of my demise.  Slow and methodical.  Hey, it’s worth a try, what’s the worst that could happen?  I actually chuckled to myself, then quickly covered my mouth.  “No one would even have to know!”  I said in the faintest whisper.  “It would make sense.  Of course I look bad, I’ve been through a great loss.  No one will even notice me fading away.  Then maybe ‘poof’ I’ll just disappear.”
I gathered up my bag and went into the bathroom.  Pulling out everything I thought I might need, I began to prepare.  I ran a hot bath, as hot as the old water heater would produce.  Pulled out a white tee and tore it into shreds.  I looked around for ointment and then the final necessity, my army knife.  Opening the small silver blade, I looked at my reflection in its narrow mirrored surface.  I didn’t recognize me.  Worn and tired, pale and ghostlike.  That’s what I was, a ghost left to wander the earth long after my life had ended.  I needed to set my spirit free to go toward whatever light waited for me.
I checked the lock, climbed into the tub and then slowly pressed the reflective silver edge into the skin inside my left wrist.  It took some doing, my flesh was stronger than I had imagined, but I finally broke through and saw the deep red oozing out next to the flash of silver.  I sunk my arm deep into the hot water to quicken the flow, then decided I better do the other wrist too, before I became too weak or dizzy to finish the job.  When it was done I sat and watched the red trail waft out into the thin water and slowly disperse, like the trail behind a jet on a cloudless day.
It was amazing to me how little it hurt, even as I watched the life oozing out of me, I felt only numbness and a distance from the pain I should be feeling.  It was as if I watched it all play out on some computer model, detached and unflinching.  Only a dull thudding sensation, like a tiny heartbeat in my flesh, made me aware it was indeed me who was cut and bleeding.
I was so enthralled watching the current of the water pull my life away with it that I barely noticed my head drooping and my eyes getting steadily heavier.  The last thing I wanted at this moment was to lose consciousness.  That would ruin everything and cost me more than I was willing to pay.
I put a good amount of ointment on each wound and tightly bound it with strips of t-shirt.  Finally, with great relief, things began to even out.  As I rose slowly to my feet an unexpected effect rushed over me.  My stomach churned and I lunged for the toilet just in time for a great nausea to hit me like a fist.  The life poured out of me in even greater force than it had right after I learned of HIS fate.  The nausea left me in a knot on the floor gasping for air.  My body burned and ached and I struggled to keep back the darkness and focus my eyes.
“What’s going on?  Are you ok?”  A sleepy whisper at the door.
My voice was weak and thick, but I forced it out.  “I’m ok.  Sorry.  Just a little sick to my stomach.  Don’t worry.  It’s passing.”  I wondered how convincing I was as I lay on the grimy bathroom floor, a tub ringed with blood and my arms wrapped in bloody cloths.
“Are you sure?  Do you need help?”
“No, I’m fine.  Just need a little time.”
“Ok.”  Footsteps moved away from the door.
Thank goodness!  I laid there on the cold floor until I felt I could attempt to move again.  This time I was able to move without the nausea, but the slightest motion caused my head to spin and my vision to blur.  I slowly cleaned myself up and after that I tackled the mess in the room.  It took too long and required all my strength just to keep focused through the clean up.  After everything was back in place I tossed all the bloody towels into my backpack and put on a big black hoodie which hung down over my hands and covered up any signs of my self-injury. 
I opened the door into the dimly lit room, not certain of what lies I’d have to produce there.  No movement, so I jotted down a note saying I would be back later and quickly slipped out unnoticed and unquestioned.  The grey sky was still drizzling, yet the glare it created seemed too strong for my weak eyes.  I let my hair fall forward and trudged down the street, my gaze on the pavement.

After that night, I continued to bleed out regularly and had it down to a routine.  My wounds never healed, so it was easy to start and became easier to stop as well.  I usually got nauseous after, but my body handled it better all the time.  I have to admit I was looking more pale and frail every time, but then, that was just my painful broken heart, wasn’t it? 
I should have known the crash would come soon enough.
This time I waited in my room until I knew the house was empty.  I opened up the moist wounds until the flesh was raw and bled freely.  Running some warm water in the sink I kept the blood flowing.  My head felt light and there was a strong tug at my ever slowing heart.  Since I knew I was alone for as long as I needed I decided to drain them a little more than usual.  The lightheaded feeling was such a contrast to the growing numbness I felt in my empty, bitter heart.  I craved the cut, the ache, the tug at my heart  I felt each time.  For a brief moment I could feel myself teetering on the edge of life and death and that moment was the only time I really felt alive again.  Alive, but with a glimmer of hope as I felt nearer to HIM and farther away from this painful existence.  I closed my eyes and savored that moment.
Paradise!  I was there again, in HIS arms.  We were in a place where nothing could ever come between us.
A small click interrupted my moment and brought me back to here and now.  The front door had opened and I heard voices that abruptly stopped when they entered.  Oh shoot!  But, why were they back?  I grabbed a towel and tried to stop the flow from my wrists.  It’s ok, don’t panic!  The door’s locked and they’ll ignore this like always.  I tried reasoning in my unsteady brain as I frantically applied pressure to my arms.
I scrambled, but it wasn’t enough.  The locked door burst open and I jumped, scattering my bindings around me.  “Damn it!  What the hell do you think you’re doing?”  Fire flashed in the eyes that accused me.
I was already quite weak and my head was spinning.  This sudden fear pushed me over the edge and nausea raced through me.
 “Is this what you want?  To die!”  The words were cutting, yet true.
Suddenly everything went dark.

I blinked hard.  My eyes were blinded by the harsh fluorescent light against the white tile floor.  Pain tore through me and I winced.  Where was I?  Where was HE?  I blinked again and saw the blood smeared around me.  The wave of memories flooded over me and I got caught in their undertow as they swept me back trough time.  Pain, blood, numbness, then back to the news!  Gone?  No, no!  This can’t be true.  The memories continued to flow back to the night, the cliff, the fall.  No!
My eyes darted back and forth, viewing the images in my head.  The reality was overwhelming, the pain obliterating.  I closed my eyes hard against that truth, but the images played on before me and brought all the contrasting fresh emotions with them.  Pain, just too much pain.
Opening my eyes to the present,  I lay there in my pool of blood and memories.
I sat up, thinking of the misery I’d inflicted on all those around me.  About half an hour later I was able to get myself up off the floor as I weakly staggered to the sink.  I knew I had to tackle the mess of a girl in the mirror before facing anyone again.  I looked bad.  Death warmed over would be a vast improvement.  My eyes were dark, my skin a pale grey, and the whites of my eyes were pink and blotchy.  Thank goodness for make-up.
How many times would I destroy their world along with mine?  How do I convince them to run away from the wreck I had become and reclaim their lives?  How do I tell them I’m sorry when I’m so numb inside that I can barely comprehend my own physical pain, let alone the emotional suffering I caused and endured?
When I slowly emerged from the bathroom we looked at each other and there was nothing left to say.  I felt my old life being severed from me and was acutely aware how much it would be hurting me if I wasn’t already so dead inside.  Like the removal of an infected limb, perhaps this was the only way to insure the survival of the whole?  Perhaps in time I too could find a way to live despite being less than whole.
 “Tell me you’ll be ok.  Lie to me if you have to, but I need to hear you say it.”
“I’ll be ok.”  Was it a lie or the truth?  I guess it depends on what you mean by ok.
There was another long silence.  “Why didn’t you tell me what you were going through?”
“Would you have believed me?”
“Would you have been able to help me?”
“No, but maybe I wouldn’t have made it worse.”
“Maybe I needed you to.  I don’t begin to know what to do, but I know it won’t happen again.  I see it’s no good now.  It didn’t take away my pain, it only spread it.”
I turned to go, feeling the absence of anything I could say to heal the wounds I had caused.  Arms quickly caught me and pulled me back, tight and close.  I realized how little touch of any sort I’d allowed since the fall that had taken HIM away.  It felt suddenly amazingly warm and comforting in that embrace.  Just in time to lose it.  Maybe that’s why I let it feel so good, there was no risk of it being available again.
“You have a choice to make.  You can live or you can die.  I hope you choose life.”  The words challenged me and convicted me.
For the first time I really saw myself as eternally separated from HIM.  Would I choose to live this life eternally or die here eternally?  The road ahead was clear and the fork in it loomed before me.  What would I choose?  Life?  Death?  Either way I’d be alone. 
I nodded, understanding clearly that I didn’t know what my choice would be right here and now.  A tender kiss touched my forehead.  “Choose life.”  Dark and sad eyes looked into mine, then disappeared quickly as the heavy door slammed shut.
Now I must find my path.
Life or death, alone.
Life or death?
                I sat for too long pondering my choice and a life more resilient than I wished it could be.  All along there was only one answer for me, and I knew it, once I realized where to look for it.  Hidden there, underneath all the layers of pain, it lay dormant and waiting.
I tried choosing death and had lost everything left in my life that mattered.  Now I must choose life.
But how do you walk out of the mist of death and back into the light of life when there’s such an empty gaping hole in you and your body and soul are so utterly numb?
All you can do is take one step.
One step away from the cliff.  One step away from the fall.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ode To May

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Knospen sprangen,
Da ist in meinem Herzen
Die Liebe aufgegangen.

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Vögel sangen,
Da hab ich ihr gestanden
Mein Sehnen und Verlangen.

--by Heinrich Heine

Spring break found me traveling, which means that May has found me sick. Of course, that means my writing/editing has taken a bit of a break and unfortunately my blog writing has suffered too.
So, not to leave you empty handed, I'm posting a little Ode to May poem, in German just to liven things up a bit.
If you're looking for more entertainment you should stop by Nikki Brandyberry's blog (link in blog list). She's part of a blog hop that's got lots of reading giveaways going on.

As for me and my blog, we hope to recover and resume our normally scheduled blah, blah, yada, yada, soon.

Thanks for stopping by!!
May your reading and writing adventures never cease.