Here’s something that has left me feeling a bit awkward… While reading through queries this week, I discovered that a husband and wife had written me separately to pitch different novels — very different novels. And I find myself intrigued by the description of one and not the other. So, it looks like I’ll end up asking for a submission for one and not the other and that leads me to wondering how that day at the mailbox is going to go… Luckily, they both sound like very reasonable people in their letters. And both sound like talented writers. It’s just that one of their projects doesn’t quite click with me. I’m sure there is someone out there for whom it will resonate.
This has brought to mind a situation from a few years ago. At that time, I had been representing a talented young author and that author’s spouse approached me with a novel as well. I agreed to take it on. Things got increasingly awkward when the second writer’s book didn’t get an offer. Eventually we went our separate ways, and at this point I don’t represent either of them anymore. And it has made me very leery of such things. I have a husband-wife writing team on my list and that dynamic ends up being quite different. I also have two people on my list who are best friends and critique partners, and their careers aren’t really going the same direction at this point. As far as I know, it’s been relatively smooth sailing between them but I wonder sometimes if in their deepest darkest hearts there isn’t some envy or some pride.
A couple years back I heard an author give a speech about the green-eyed monster. I think it might have been Jennie Crusie, but I’m not entirely sure. What particularly stuck in my mind from that presentation was the issue of being in the writing community where one can be both envious of another’s success but also want to cheer them on because they have become a friend and because they are honestly working hard and also happen to be quite talented. I have a couple close friends who are agents and I suppose that I could find myself in a similar place, wondering why so-and-so managed to sell a book for such-and-such a sum when no one will bite on something particularly brilliant that I’ve been shopping. Or vice versa. I know that working with writing puts a subjective spin on everything. Naturally, I’m going to think that all my clients should be outrageously successful, collect outstanding reviews, and be nominated for every award under the sun. I guess it’s not in wanting it that the error lies, but in fretting over-much about that greener-looking grass.