looking for actual content

Having realized my last three entries are posts of cover-art, I wanted to write something with actual paragraphs. But I think I have blog-block. Sometimes I wonder if I’m saying anything new or interesting. How many times can I rant about mistakes made in queries? This blog is now in its fifth year. What could I possibly say that I haven’t already said? Sure, in the agent life my days are rarely all the same, but there are parts of it that move in cycles, and some of the tasks do start to seem a bit repetitive at times, just like in any job. At least I always have something new to read.

Could this be a little bit like that conundrum of coming up with a story that is fresh with a new voice but isn’t so far afield as to not be accessible? I often hear at conferences editors, agents, and published authors advising everyone to be original. But it seems to me that if what they are writing is too original, then people say it’s strange and not marketable. And coming up with new ideas can be so difficult, especially when Shakespeare used them all up already. I always tell people that it’s not necessarily the idea, but the execution. How this story could only have been written by this particular author at this particular time in this particular way. Not too much to ask, right? Riiiight.

17 responses to “looking for actual content

  1. “But it seems to me that if what they are writing is too original, then people say it’s strange and not marketable”
    I hear this from people all the time. This, and the “mixed genre” issue. Personally I try to keep it as simple as possible…which makes me wonder how “orginal” I am. 😮

  2. Well it’s like that article in – um – NYT? Not sure where it was, but on writing ‘bestsellers’ and the unpredictability of that. Then someone on a writing list said, well, it screams making lists and projections, and I thought, you aren’t ‘getting’ it. You can never make real lists and projections. Yes, in the romance field they can, a little bit, but on a general basis? Who knows what is going to capture an audience in the writing field? Something resonates and has an exponential effect, but you can’t ‘write’ that intentionally. At least, not start out by writing a bestseller.
    I agree with you. Although no one wants tired old tropes, even those can take on new life with some brilliant execution.

  3. This blog is now in its fifth year. What could I possibly say that I haven’t already said?
    Keep in mind some of us have only been reading here a few months. 🙂

  4. Well, even Shakespeare wasn’t using new ideas. He was recycling much older stories. He just did it really well. I’m not sure original is as desirable as some people seem to think. Actually I remember going to a panel discussion about that very topic once, and the panelists were differentiating between ‘original’ and ‘unique’. If I remember correctly, they mostly agreed that original was not a good thing (insert disparaging comments about ‘literary novels’ here), but ‘unique’ (by which I think they meant the unique voice of the writer) was what people really wanted.

  5. Jennifer,
    What is a writer supposed to do? I write for me and hope that readers will like it. Some agents have said they aren’t sure what to do with my story because it may fall into the too different category. Everyone asks for something different, and then get all wigged out when they get it—get it? It’s terribly annoying but that’s fine, I have several partials and fulls out right now, so we’ll see.

  6. Here’s a question for ya, then.
    How did you end up being an agent?

  7. I have a topic
    So what do you think of Thomas Nelson eliminating all their imprints? How does that affect you as an agent? Or does it? It seems like an excellent idea to me from a marketing point of view, but from a writer’s pov, I use the imprints to know where my work might best be submitted. Now I have an agent, so I don’t have to worry about that angle, but does the agent’s life get harder or easier now? Or does it make a difference?

  8. Tee-hee…I guess we’ll see. Revise, revise, revise 🙂

  9. …it would make *me* happy if you did a post on agents and publishers who publish buddhist non-fiction books even when you’re not a famous teacher…but if that’s not what you’re into, *you* might find it rather boring…!

  10. Evening
    I’ve been haunting the outskirts of your journal for a little bit, and finally thought of something to ask that i havent seen in posts (and if you have answered this already, i apologize) and was wondering how you got into 1. Agenting/Representation 2. Specifically as a Sf/f agent? 3. If someone were interested in doing either (or both!) how would they best go about it? I’m approaching my senior year in college, graduating with a degree in writing and am not really sure where to go or what to do after this point. I’m not sure i’d cut it as a writer (and equally not sure i want to) but editing, publishing, advertising etc seems like it might be a cool time.
    Any suggestions?

  11. don’t tell me you’re thinking of retiring like janet did. your blog rules!

  12. Keep writing !
    Hi, Miss Jackson, I’d like to echo the folks before me who said that not all of us have been reading here for five years, so keep writing, this is interesting stuff.
    I’m actually a client of Don’s, with my first novel coming out in August and another book still-in-the-writing that’s slated for Summer 2008. Your blog is one of a few that I check on regularly to keep up with the New York world. You have a good voice and fun problems (fun for us), and I encourage you to continue sharing.
    All best,
    PLAGUE YEAR, from Ace Books in August 2007
    and WAR DAY, from Ace in Summer 2008

  13. Hello!
    Jennifer –
    Hi, I just Friended you. I hope you don’t mind. Aaron Rosenberg here–we met through Lucienne a few years ago. And, amusingly enough, I just queried you via snail mail a few weeks ago, and then heard from Gareth (who was staying with me during ThrillerFest) how he’d had lunch with you and you’d recognized HKAT! Small world. 🙂
    – Aaron

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