Waiting, waiting…so far, so silent over there in literary agency land. Not. One. Word. Again, I am past knowing how to respond – is it good that I haven’t received a definitive no, or is it very, very bad that they evidently don’t respect or prioritise me enough to make a call one way or the other and put me out of my misery? When I said to Llew last week, “I just can’t imagine the universe in which a five-month wait is a good thing,” he said, “Well, it’s disrespectful, that’s for sure. It’s not the way you treat someone whose work you respect.”
It was a blow that landed deep in my guts. Oh my god, I thought, spirits plunging into the jet abyss, he’s right: my MS has failed to earn their respect. Not liking it or wanting it is one thing, and I can take either of those responses right on the chin, but not respecting it, and by extension me as its author, is so, so much worse. The implications of such disrespect are far more upsetting to me than outright rejection and failure. But it also doesn’t really make any sense, which is what’s so confounding. Last time I had any news for the agent I’ve been dealing with, I emailed and received an ‘out of office’ auto-reply, so I knew exactly when she’d be back at work. She responded the very day of her return – no mean feat after Christmas holidays when she probably walked into an email avalanche. All our emails have been friendly and upbeat. So I don’t understand what’s happened, and I don’t know what else I can do.
One last thought nags me: it doesn’t seem like the way to treat someone you do want to sign, but it’s also a very unfortunate way to deal with someone you don’t.
Anyway, on to diary keeping, a subject near and dear to my heart. Admittedly I write in my ‘thought books’ a lot less now that I blog, but there are still occasions when the blog is an inappropriately public forum for my private thoughts, and so I’ve always still got a diary on the go. I’ve also got a separate ‘IVF diary,’ although various unrelated things (or perhaps they are related) have already managed to sneak in there, so that I’m no longer sure of the wisdom of attempting a distinct record.
I no longer possess my earliest diaries, but I retain books dating back to my two years in Canada at Pearson College, so coming up to 21 years’ worth of recorded thoughts. I don’t know how many I’ve accumulated, and I don’t keep them all in one spot. Where there are clusters, they are not chronological. Some are hardcover, some are ring-bound, and some no longer boast a front nor a back.
There’s no easy answer for why I have them. I certainly do not intend nor wish for them ever to be read by others. They’re for me, I think, some place to keep memories, and a means of admitting and confessing things to myself that I can’t or won’t admit or confess to anyone else. Their contents can horrify and embarrass me – how deeply I felt things in my late teens and twenties seems cringe-worthy to me now. The tone of some entries is borderline hysterical. My pronounced (and pronounced, and pronounced, and pronounced again!) passion for friends and lovers is an especially curious verbal artefact, now the objects of such devotion – my demented attentions – have often completely fallen from view. How could I possibly have felt this way about someone I don’t even know now? How could I have expended this much energy writing about, romanticising, and idealising someone who sooo patently didn’t give a fuck about me? What on earth was I thinking? Who is this person, this ridiculous ‘I’?
But there are important things in there too. Irreplaceable moments I’m glad I recorded. Life-changing events that compelled me to write, to remember, and to recover the only way I know how: through words. Some entries make me gasp in pain, others make me laugh, and still more make me blush. Sometimes I feel enormously sad for that younger me; I made so many awful mistakes because I didn’t believe I had any worth. But in spite of all the shuddery horrors, still I can see – what I see most of all, is that whatever the consequence, whatever was at stake, whatever happened next, no matter what and however unrequited, always I loved. And if that’s my biggest crime, then you know what? It doesn’t feel so bad.
POSTSCRIPT: news just in at DoctorDi HQ is that my worst suspicions have been confirmed: the agent has declined to offer me representation, and sincerely apologised for the delay. She and a colleague apparently both felt a lack of ’emotional closeness’ with the main character, which I must admit actually was a surprise. I thought emotional closeness was the one thing the manuscript had going for it, so this feedback opens up a new nightmare altogether. Anyway, it’s been six months since I last worked on it, so I’m going to be very interested to see how I find it once the next redraft begins on Friday. But in the meantime, what I really want to know, more than just about anything, is why literary agents don’t know how to use apostrophes…