My enneagram is 9w8. According to this, I'm peace-loving, I crave harmony and balance, and I don't like change.
My Myers-Briggs is INFP. According to this, I'm calm, I don't like to make waves, and I don't like change.
My sun sign is Aquarius. According to this, I'm a fixed sign, stuck in my ways, and --
you're not going to believe this --
I DON'T LIKE CHANGE.
So, I'm querying again. I've talked about my most recent YA project, My Brain On Love and Panic, which I wrote to completion at an insane rate. I've had my eye on a particular literary agency as a representation candidate for at least a year now. For multiple reasons -- both mystical and practical -- that same agency jumped out at me as an option for this book nearly four months ago.
By the time I finished my book in September, I found this agency was closed for queries and would be opening back up less than a week later. I knew my novel, which was written in 21 days, wouldn't be ready to submit in a week's time, but I was excited to send my work to them when it was ready.
Around October, I noticed the agency had updated their website with a message that said: Still Catching Up. Closed to Queries Until December 1st. I'll admit, the message took a little of the wind out of my sails, but it didn't crush me. I could be patient for a while longer, and honestly, it was probably for the best -- now I had time to find more people to critique my novel. Love & Panic would be ultra-ready by December. This was good. In the meantime, I entered a popular Twitter pitch event at the suggestion of a friend. I got some amazing feedback and even interest from an agent (who ultimately passed). Then I worked on lining up other agents in case I decided to submit to multiple at some point. I got my query letter critiqued and then revised it. I bided my time.
After many, many edits to Love & Panic, 2.5 beta readers, and some last-minute changes based on others' feedback, I was ready to chomp through my own leg to escape the chains of waiting and launch myself at that one agency I'd had my eye on for four months. Then, on November 30, right before the agency's new December 1st reopening date, they updated their site again:
Closed to queries until further notice.
Not really. I'm still here. And I understand, from a logical standpoint. This agency is popular and they've got a lot on their plate. Plus, December isn't the best time for any writer to be querying because agents are in vacation mode (I know this because I am also in vacation mode) and they're looking to start fresh in January. Logic and I are good friends; what gets in the way is my inability to change my plans at a moment's notice. It's difficult to break my rhythm once I've decided I'm comfortable, but once I'm over the disappointment and annoyance of having to switch gears, I'm fine.
Back in April of this year, I came up with a writing schedule for all of my projects that spread them out over the next few years. You read that right -- years. I have many story ideas in my arsenal, ranging from concepts to outlines to partially-written works. I decided my story set in Ireland -- a passion project since 2008 -- would come first, as I'd waited to travel to the country itself before I finished the novel. Love & Panic was not far down on that list, but it definitely came after my Ireland story, considering Ireland was already a quarter of the way finished and Love & Panic was, at the time, a mere twinkle in my eye.
As it turned out, Love & Panic wanted -- nay, demanded -- to be written first, and who am I to stop the characters in my head from telling their story? The story poured out of me, and even though I tried to fight it because it wasn't part of the original plan, I was so in love with it I decided to let it take over; it was uncomfortable at first, but something told me I should let it happen, so I accepted it. When my preferred literary agency came up, it seemed to all be falling into place.
Only now, I'm having to wait again. I'm having to change my plan... again.
Since conceiving the idea for this blog post, I've come to terms with a lot of things. Plans rarely work out exactly the way we want them to, and really, we shouldn't rely on them, especially in the creative world. So much of our fate as writers relies on connecting with and depending on the power of others. Yes, creative control is a thing and it's something authors and other artists should hold onto as much as possible. However, we also have to realize that timing and flexibility are two things that will make or break us, especially in the publishing industry.
I always say that finding a literary agent is like finding a needle in a haystack: there are hundreds of thousands of these folks out there, but you have to find the one who gels with what you're trying to put out into the world. Finding one person to champion your work in a sea of hundreds of thousands is a daunting task, and letting go of some control is going to alleviate the crazy feeling.
So, I let go. I let go of my plan to have my Ireland story written by the end of the year (it'll be finished... sometime in the next 3 to 6 months). I also let go of the idea of getting an agent this year, something I manifested back in January; the timing of my writing schedule and life events just weren't right for it. I didn't let go of my dream agency and agent -- I just had to be okay with them taking their time. I moved two other agents I like up on the list and queried them before the holidays, then I resigned myself to waiting until the new year before I get a response.
I accepted change. I amended my plan. I'm still waiting. And I'm starting to get the feeling that our plans usually change for a better reason than we could have ever envisioned when we made them.