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Old 01-17-2013, 03:13 AM   #1
kuatolives
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Throwing in the towel after 9 years

So my (ex)literary agent called yesterday to terminate our relationship. After a year of failing to place a novel I'd written he finally decided to throw in the towel. I don't really blame him as I'd written off writing last year citing burnout and the general downward trajectory my life had taken since taking writing seriously.

The day I'd submitted that final draft of that particular novel to my agent, I was living in my friend's back room, hadn't worked in months, lost my girlfriend, and was probably drinking too much (probably still do lol). That state of affairs wasn't entirely related to writing, but writing definitely contributed to it as I tend to obsess over a task until complete to the exclusion of all other tasks, including living an acceptable lifestyle.

So, once I was represented and on submission, I forgot about writing and concentrated on getting my life back together. It was easy to do considering I had so many aspects of my life needing attention. And attend I did. Within the last year, I've earned a half million dollars through a re-constructed career, moved into a luxury condo with a fantastic downtown view, and started a new relationship. I even managed to squeeze a month of vactioning in Scotland during the Edinburgh summer festival. Because I had a novel on submission to publishers, it didn't matter to me that I wasn't writing anymore as 'things were in motion'; I was still tackling that particular problem. Anyday I could get that phone call. Then I got it ...

"You're fired! Take your schlock someplace else!" (Paraphrasing)

GRRRRRRR.

First instinct: Query that novel again.
Second instinct : Finish the second draft of the other novel I'd been working on but abandoned.

"Fuck it, I'll get back on the horse."
"You sure about that? You know what will happen don't you?"
"Who are you?"
"He who knows better."
"What will happen?"
"You'll start writing again. The job, the condo, the girlfiend ....whooosh! Gone baby, gone; one at a time, slowly but surely. Nothing to show but words on paper that nobody wants to read much less pay for."
"I'll just write a couple hours a day."
"Who do you think you're kidding? It'll be all day, every day. You can't do it any other way. The ship that is your life will start to sink again.. slowly, surely ... like the Andrea Something."
"Doria. No, I'll just-"
"You could be a millionaire in two more years then live off the investment income. You can write then. Until that time, just keep - that - fuckin - laptop - shut."
"I gotta get this problem tackled! I promised myself! Just a couple hours a day. I'll set an alarm or something."
"How much time have you spent in the last year on writing messageboards?"
"None, really."
"And today? How much time did you spend composing this post?"
"A few minutes... I dunno... maybe fifteen mintues. Not much-"
"The Hang Seng index opens in 90 minutes. Instead of watching your foreign investments, you're writing an imaginary conversation. See, it's already begun."
"Close it?"
"Close it."
"Just for a while longer, right?"
"Just for a while longer. What's a year in the publishing industry?"


Click.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:18 AM   #2
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No quitting. Move on to another story. Prioritize. You will find a way.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:31 AM   #3
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Congratulations on getting your shit together. Query your novel again then start writing. I doubt your life will take a disasterous turn simply because you'e writing. Who knows, mabe you can do a meta novel about a writer who quit writing and got his shit together, only to start writing again and have his perfect life ripped from right under his little pretentious fingers.

Relax.If you get your novel published, fine. If you don't, fine. It's not the end of your world, especially if you've made something of yourself in spite of it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:37 AM   #4
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Just wanted to point that if the agent has shopped the novel around to all possible publishers and not found a home for it, then there's no point in querying it again. No agent is going to take it on.

As to the rest (warning: blunt advice here) -- if you can find a way to write in moderation, without wrecking your life, then do it. Otherwise, let it go. It's not worth being penniless and friendless.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:40 AM   #5
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Well, quit if you want to, quit if it's really the right thing, and you'll be happier. But I'd say the odds are *real* good that the problems you describe - living in your friend's back room, losing your girlfriend - come from something other than writing. lol.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:47 AM   #6
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Only you know what you really want and what's best for you. But generally, I agree with Beth. It does seem odd to me that you would *have* to dump your life in the toilet in order to write, and my feeling is that you could do it. But I don't know you. If that really is the way you operate, I'm not sure it's worth it. And if a couple years is all it takes for you to become a millionaire--that really isn't that long to put it off. You can always come back to writing.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:43 AM   #7
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Can the girlfriend help you with this? Make sure you don't write more than X hours every day? Or maybe join a local writing group so that they can keep an eye on you? Otherwise, I tend to agree with Beth and Buzhidao.

(Side note, I find it intriguing that you seem to have the exact opposite problem of most writers I've talked to, including myself. Usually we're trying to motivate ourselves to start writing, not stop!)
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:07 AM   #8
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Honestly, if it doesn't make you happy, don't do it. Life is way too long to spend doing something that makes you miserable if you can possible avoid it--and that applies to a career in business OR writing.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:08 AM   #9
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Do what makes you happy. If writing makes you happy, great. If it's going to make you miserable, don't start writing again. Or you can find a good psychologist that can talk you through your obsessive behavior and then try to learn how to take things in moderation. But seriously-- if you were on your death bed tomorrow, what would your regret be? Wish I'd kept that condo? Wish I'd published that novel? Neither?
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:09 AM   #10
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Find a balance.
If you can make half a million within a year, that means you can be a success at something, if not at everything.
If you feel like writing, write. Take your time, don't dive into it and neglect everything else. If you really feel like writing, you'll do it, and you'll improve. Another and better agent will be ahead.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FOTSGreg View Post

But your agent? They're an As$hat who's got a big head syndrome. They've forgotten what their job is, what they're supposed to be doing, and who they really work for.
Sorry, but this is a thoroughly unprofessional statement that will get you nowhere in the publishing world. An agent is not required to go on shopping a dead novel indefinitely, and it's a waste of time and resources to do so.

While writing a new book and looking for a new agent is a reasonable option--provided the OP can maintain some balance while doing it--throwing a tantrum and blaming the former agent is the least constructive choice. (Kudos to the OP for not doing so.)

Maybe more could have been done, but without knowing exactly what the agent did or did not do, there's no justification for the above comments.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:52 AM   #12
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OP: I have no clue what the point of your post was. The fact your agent threw in the towel? That you threw in the towel? Maybe you just wanted to talk? Or brag? Or test-drive your fiction snippet on us?

I dun get it.

FOTSGreg: So, agents aren't allowed out of their business arrangements? And if they do escape, they deserve to be called names and have obscene tortures wished upon them?

I realize you're just trying to sympathize with the OP, but your response seemed a wee bit overwrought.
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Old 01-17-2013, 08:32 AM   #13
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If you don't feel that you absolutely need to write, congratulations, you are free. Especially since you seem to be doing so well... I hate to be cynical, but writing for a lot of people is a compulsion. I know that, regardless of whether I have any talent, regardless of whether I'll ever get published or not, I need to write. Something feels off or missing from me if I don't. It's a heartbreaking, often unrewarding business, as you seem to have already found out. If you're getting on well without it, there's probably not a whole lot of reason to go back to it.
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Old 01-17-2013, 09:41 AM   #14
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OP - It depends on why you're writing.
Honestly though, it sounds like you got obsessed with it and over-focused to the point of wasting away. And that's probably not the your novel's fault.
If you're happy not writing then just do that. If you're not going to be satisfied unless you write, then find a way to make it work. Find a way to write without all getting all obsessed about it. Either just do it as a hobby or set up some boundaries around it. Key word being boundaries.
Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel just because your last novel didn't make the cut.

Do whatever is going to make you happy. And note, happy people don't lock themselves up in a room and waste away. ^_^
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:56 AM   #15
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Congratulations on getting your shit together. Query your novel again then start writing. I doubt your life will take a disasterous turn simply because you'e writing. Who knows, mabe you can do a meta novel about a writer who quit writing and got his shit together, only to start writing again and have his perfect life ripped from right under his little pretentious fingers.

Relax.If you get your novel published, fine. If you don't, fine. It's not the end of your world, especially if you've made something of yourself in spite of it.

I love your signature.


Kuatolives, don't give up. Just continue to query and write another novel. You've got the talent. Don't let it waste away.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:01 AM   #16
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Get a new towel.

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Old 01-17-2013, 12:33 PM   #17
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I had four editors on my first book! They all wanted money and after I had payed the first editor, I found one grammar and two spelling mistakes in the first chapter. She was fired!
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:19 PM   #18
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As to the rest (warning: blunt advice here) -- if you can find a way to write in moderation, without wrecking your life, then do it. Otherwise, let it go. It's not worth being penniless and friendless.
This. To me it sounds like your relationship with writing is more like an addiction than a hobby.

Some people can drink in moderation, even if they once had a problem. Other people can't have even one without stumbling back into addiction. Only you can tell which of the two you are.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:57 PM   #19
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Agreeing with BethS and Flicka. A lot of writers slip into unhealthy habits when they're sucked into a draft, but not to the extent you're describing.

Your current writing techniques aren't working for you. Adapt your methods, or stop before you do lasting damage to your life.

And good luck.


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I had four editors on my first book! They all wanted money and after I had payed the first editor, I found one grammar and two spelling mistakes in the first chapter. She was fired!
That's a whole other kettle of fish, my friend. Your editors shouldn't be wanting money unless you're self-publishing, and if you are, why do you need four? You might want to make a new thread so we can discuss your situation without derailing this one.

EDIT: I just took a look at your first thread in the New members forum where you mentioned paying a publisher. Definitely start a new thread, Will, it sounds like you're following some dangerous routes to publication.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:31 PM   #20
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There's nothing wrong with quitting. The dumb writers are often the ones who don't quit when they should, and waste a life that could have been wonderful. The smartest thng I ever did was give up painting. It was something I really wanted to do, and something I learned I had no talent for.

Only a fool keeps doing anything that isn't making them happy.
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Old 01-17-2013, 02:34 PM   #21
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Um, your agent can't fire you. They WORK FOR you, not the other way. Oh, sure, they can QUIT or you can fire them, but they can't fire you.

The only one who can quit is you. It's your choice.

But your agent? They're an As$hat who's got a big head syndrome. They've forgotten what their job is, what they're supposed to be doing, and who they really work for. FRAK this one - with a giant telephone-pole-sized dildo. You CAN do better.

So long as it's not YOU who quits.
What kind of silliness is this? You want an agent to keep working after a book has made the rounds? I don't think you have a clue what an agent's job is, and certainly have no respect for them. Really, that's way, way out of line, way, way out of all rationality.
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:01 PM   #22
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Good for you. From what you've said it sounds like you realized you had an unhealthy addiction (even if an unusual one) and you're kicking it to the curb. There's no point in chasing a dream that ruins your life and your relationships. If writing is not serving to make your life better (not worse!), writing is not for you.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:03 PM   #23
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Um, your agent can't fire you. They WORK FOR you, not the other way. Oh, sure, they can QUIT or you can fire them, but they can't fire you.

The only one who can quit is you. It's your choice.

But your agent? They're an As$hat who's got a big head syndrome. They've forgotten what their job is, what they're supposed to be doing, and who they really work for. FRAK this one - with a giant telephone-pole-sized dildo. You CAN do better.

So long as it's not YOU who quits.
To me it sounds like the OP's ex agent has subbed the book to the editors he thought might like it and come to the end of his list. In this case, it makes sense for him to call it quits and let the OP query other agents if he wishes to. The ex agent did nothing wrong, so I'm not sure where your anger towards him is coming from...

To the OP,

If you plan on querying the book elsewhere, make sure you have a list of editors that your ex agent subbed to. As for compulsive writing, you might want to seek help for that. See a therapist, someone who can curb your unhealthy writing behaviour. I'm not convinced that you should be writing if it makes you miserable. What's the fun in that?
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:16 PM   #24
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Good for you. From what you've said it sounds like you realized you had an unhealthy addiction (even if an unusual one) and you're kicking it to the curb. There's no point in chasing a dream that ruins your life and your relationships. If writing is not serving to make your life better (not worse!), writing is not for you.
This. *waves hands over it* All of it.

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Old 01-17-2013, 07:19 PM   #25
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Michael Parks is a shiny, shiny jewelMichael Parks is a shiny, shiny jewel
Moderation in all things.
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"There are intangible realities which float near us, formless and without words;
realities which no one has thought out, and which are excluded for lack of interpreters."
- -Natalie Clifford Barney.
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