I’ve spent the last week working on revising my second book using notes from my agent, Taryn, who, by the way, recently launched her own literary agency.
It took my all of two seconds to decide to stick with Taryn. While be forever grateful to Sandy Dykstra and her agency for signing me on, it was Taryn who plucked my manuscript from the slush pile and became its biggest fan. Ever since she read my query letter and the first three chapters of SOMETHING MISSING, she has been an amazing partner, collaborator, negotiator, and friend. She means the world to me.
Taryn provided me with about eight pages of notes on my latest manuscript, and as always, I agreed with most of her suggestions. But as I revise, switching back from the manuscript to the document of notes, I find myself engaging in a dialogue with Taryn, and though she isn’t actually sitting with me (we have yet to actually meet in person) I am often speaking to a quasi-fictional version of her out loud.
Sometimes I’m praising her for an ingenious suggestion.
Other times I’m basking in the glow of a compliment.
On occasion, I’m rolling my eyes, knowing that she’s right in what she has suggested but also knowing how much re-writing will be required if I decide to go along with her (which I usually do).
Not often, but sometimes, I find myself yelling at Taryn, reacting to a suggestion or comment that contains a kernel of truth that I do not want to hear.
“Who cares what my main character looks like?”
“So what if every female character had a pony-tail? It’s the only damn hairstyle I know!”
“How dare you say that this section of dialogue is cheesy? You’re cheesy! These lines are fine!”
“I don’t care if this anecdote doesn’t actually fit into the storyline! I think it’s funny and so should you!”
There have been times when my wife asks me to whom I am speaking, and I'm forced to admit that I'm that I'm talking to myself, even though I'm really talking to Taryn. .
And I can’t help but wonder if the same thing happens on Taryn’s end:
“What is wrong with this guy? It’s page 187 and I don’t know what his main character looks like!”
“Another pony-tail? What is this? A cut-and-paste novel?”
“What is going on? He follows up this page of crisp, clean dialogue with a block of syrupy monologue? Is he blind? Has he lost his ear for his character’s voice? What was this idiot thinking?”
“What is this supposed to be? This anecdote is not at all amusing and it doesn’t fit the damn story? Did he cut-and-paste this from his next book by mistake?”
I’m sure that Taryn is much nicer than me when reacting to my manuscripts.
At least I hope she is.