In my continuing saga to secure a literary agent, I'm three months into my current query and have obtained a request for revisions. This is a critical point in the querying process. I've overcome several large hurdles. My query has managed to stand out in the slush pile, my sample pages have passed the initial smell test, and now my entire manuscript has been read by an honest-to-goodness agent. And the only catch is, she wants me to rewrite some of my story.
How quickly can I jump through that hoop, right?
Just hold your horses there, mister. I've actually done rewrites. Even on this very story. Let me tell you something. They are heart wrenching. When a story has been built up layer by layer and every piece of information, every scene, every thought a character has is connected in some small or large way to many, many other scenes, themes, and plots in a book, asking for a little change, like, oh, let's say, "I really like the book but I want the protagonist to be confident instead of timid." is like pulling a string on a sweater. It doesn't take much tugging before you're completely topless.
Now, to clarify, the rewrites this agent was asking for were well within reason. There was nothing about them that made me think, "Oh, lord, she doesn't get what I'm going for here. We're never going to see eye to eye." On the contrary, the main request was one I knew in my gut was much needed ... the ending. It had a slight, "I'm exhausted and I want this book finished, and so much of it is cool and great, can't you cut me some slack at the end," feel to it. She called me on it, and I'm glad she did.
But the actual request for a rewrite was brief, considering the amount of work necessary to affect the changes asked for. And having been down this road before, I had to think, "Is she as into this book as I need her to be?" I felt confident that with the proper direction I could make satisfying changes - I just needed to be sure I understood the direction she was looking for. I didn't want to guess and lose my chance to keep her engaged and have butchered my book for no good reason.
So I asked for clarification.
That's right. In this tenuous relationship we had formed as prospective client and potential agent, I asked in my best Oliver Twist voice for some more, please. I basically said, in the nicest and most professional way possible, "I have received your terms for continuing on and here is what I require."
This felt nervy. It felt daring. It felt idiotic. It was a necessary test.
I decided, if this agent is truly interested, a little expounding on her feelings about the book shouldn't be too much to ask. If she can't be troubled for that, she can't possibly feel strongly enough about what she's seen to be impressed by anything I could do with it in rewrites.
So, to make a long story short (Too late!) I asked for clarification, received it, did a part of the rewrites, sent it in, was asked nicely to do all the rewrites, and then sent that in.
And that takes us to the seven month mark on this particular query. Roughly Christmas to Fourth of July. It's time for the happy ending, right? Fireworks, streamers, touchdown dances, a sudsy, lavender scented bubble bath (hey, you celebrate your way ...) Shirley, after all this time, we've reached the end of our odyssey and I'm a signed author, right?
Check back soon for my next entry to see if it was time to celebrate. I'll give you a hint - my rubber duck had a long, lonely summer ahead of him.