Two weeks lasts nine years when you’re eight or twelve and waiting for summer vacation to start, waiting to break free of desks and chairs and have more than a minute-long recess wherein you barely get a win in against Jimmy on the tetherball court before the buzzer sounds. Then, after a month or so of freedom, of walking country roads and memorizing every blade of grass, where every pirate hides in the farm equipment on the dairy — the remainder of summer lasts and lasts, stretching into an endless sort of eon before you can catch the school bus again.
Just so with sending a chapter of Irene off to be read by an agent. The exhileration of finally accomplishing this goal, the self-satisfaction of knowing, whatever the results may be, that the novel, one chapter of the novel, is within readable reach of someone who might give it the push it needs to become an actual book — all of that lightness of spirit, that incessant humming and silly grin for no apparent reason — leaves by the end of the week. By the third day, you’re checking the calendar to see if a week has gone by. You know it’s only the third day, but there’s always that outside chance you’ve somehow slept through a day, or four. After two weeks, you ask your editing coach and Beat the Book writing friends, “How long should I wait before I send a note around, you know, to make sure the doc file arrived ok?” You’re told, “Let’s give it a few more weeks.” “Is one week considered a few?” “Let’s give her two.” “Ok.”
You think you’ve said “Ok” out loud, but you say it again, resignedly: “ok.”
Later, during the reunion phone conferencing call with the four other writers who’ve helped you hone the work and pumped you up when you’d felt certain of failure at completing The True Life Adventures of Irene in White Tights, during talk between the others about the work in progress with one of your friends on the call, you interupt and say, “Would it be wrong to go ahead and submit a query letter and chapters to another agent now?” One of those Time Warp things happens. The silence is maybe a nano-second but you feel minutes slip past. You have over-stepped. You’ve been thoughtless. You have every reason to still be dancing the streets. Your first chapter is out there, within reachable reading distance of an agent already. You are greedy. Someone should give you a Time Out corner to sit in and the chair should be uncomfortable. There shouldn’t be a chair. Just the floor. No carpeting.
“You could submit to other agents,” you’re told. Then you’re told about ‘exclusivity’ and that some agents like this. Exclusivity is a feature they can pitch to a publisher. Exclusivity has worth. On the other hand, you’re told, by sending to more than one agent, your agent audience is broadened, more chances to be read, to be picked up. The main thing, you’re told, is to keep the agent who currently has the mss. (within reachable reading distance) informed of any additional queries to other agents or the sending out of mss. pages. “It’s up to you,” you’re told.
“Ok. I’ll wait the two weeks.” Then, the nudge will take place to find out if the first agent has read the first chapter. If not, then, then the information to the first agent that you’re considering sending out to a second agent. Then the wait to find out if this information will have any effect on the first agent. Has she read it? Will she now?
You can wait. You will wait. And, at the top of your Things To Keep Your Mind Occupied While You Wait List, write a note of apology to Susan for interupting her time to talk about her project during the reunion Beat the Book conference call. Check.