I read Rebecca Alexander’s blog, yesterday, entitled ‘Nerves’. Rebecca’s meeting with an agent today, lucky woman, and she was feeling pretty anxious about it.
I’m a big fan of writers and I know a number of pretty successful ones, but it’s an odd job. For the most part, writers work alone. They sit in a room, in front of a computer, all day long, trying to write stuff, stories, mostly, or poetry. What they don’t do is sit in an office with lots of other people. They don’t interact much with the rest of the world, and when they do get out, often to do research, they spend a good portion of that time alone too. In my experience, writers are mostly solitary. They are mostly reading or mostly writing, and neither of those things is a group activity.
The husband and I are lucky; we have each other. Most writers rattle about in their homes with only Twitter for company, and, when push comes to shove, that gets turned off too.
Of course, at some point, a writer is going to have to interact in the World to get published, and, for most, the first contact is with the agent. At this point, most writers are still working full-time jobs, so they still know what people look like, even if they have given up any hope of having a social life in favour of writing that novel. This might help with the niceties of shaking a hand and talking to a new person without, you know, shaking and spouting gibberish.
For me, and, I know, for Rebecca, this isn’t the case. I haven’t had an office job for over twenty years, and most of my interactions with the world have been via e-mail. I’ve been writing, more-or-less full-time for three years, and, in all that time, I haven’t had to please or impress another human being, in person.
On the other hand, I’ve also been pretty lucky; I’m married to a writer, and I’ve been around when the husband’s working a crowd. I’ve seen him speak about his work in front of a thousand eager fans at a time. I’ve seen him signing books for hours on end with a smile on his face and a word for every person in those interminable queues. I’ve seen him be the most important person in the room, and I’ve watched him make the most important person in the room laugh.
It’s been a long apprenticeship, and I’ll need a little practice to get anything like as good at meeting people as he is, I’m sure, but when the time comes to meet that agent, I shall remind myself that the work has opened the door, and all I need do is walk through it with my hand out and a smile on my face. Once the handshake and the hello is over with, I’m sure the rest will go swimmingly.