Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Abandon All Hope: Sort Of

By Eleanor Shelton 

It’s not exactly like your parents dropping you off at summer camp or the television series you’ve become addicted to going off the air. Of course, these are letdowns, but your parents will come to pick you up at the end of the summer, and sure Northern Exposure was fun, but another show with loveable, zany characters will come along.

When I was twelve my closest friend, a classmate, sleepover pal, mischief-making ally, got sick. She was diagnosed with leukemia, and I was witness to her fading away. She died in the late spring. 

Departures come in all different forms. It’s in the setting of the sun, and the receding of the tide. The process is natural and yet distressing nonetheless. It’s part of learning to be self-reliant and dealing with disappointment. As writers, we know all about frustration.  

Abandonment doesn’t have the sharp but dissipating sting of a slap. It’s like a punch to the gut, bruising your skin and driving the precious air from your body.

Tayari Jones, Silver Sparrow

Writing is a lonely pursuit, but unless it stays in a journal we need help in giving our words an audience. We depend on teachers, beta readers, and then agents. For me, and for many writers, I hunted for an agent. A frustrating and soul-crushing process for sure. But eventually, I found someone who loved my story, signed me, and became my champion.

She and I had a plan, a pitch package, and a bowlful of hope. I was almost there . . . published and on my way.

After several months, a close call, and so many rejections, she sent me an email informing me that she was giving up agenting. With two children in college and the cost of living in New York City, she wasn’t making enough money. She was leaving me. I felt abandoned. 

I felt lost. Mourning. Loss. A rudderless boat. Falling into a bottomless abyss. But we writers are resilient; otherwise, we would have stopped after our first rejections.

Humans, by nature, search for partners in life. When writers find an agent, we think it’s permanent—my success is her success. But just like in regular life, partners can come and go. 

We aren’t married to our agents, and there is no messy dividing of assets. And just like a romantic split, maybe it happened for a reason, perhaps someone better suited to my needs is out there? Abandonment happens, and it scars the soul. Its impact lingers.

I didn’t take it personally; she wasn’t leaving me per se, just the business. But still, isn’t everything about writing personal? So, I might be jumping back into the agent dating world, or where we see if our hopes and dreams pair nicely.

 After all, isn’t there someone for everyone? Aren’t we writers worthy of love too?

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