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Posts Tagged ‘literary agent’

So over the weekend, I pondered the advice given to me by Darcy in the comment under “Literary Broccoli.”  I began with the very first question: “What is your genre?”  This question cut straight to the very heart of my problem.

 

I’ve kind of been in denial that perhaps, my story could be described as a (gasp) genre novel.  You know.  Genre.  That scary thing that all those agents say not to bother pitching.  But it’s not really about that element, I tell myself, utterly unconvincingly.  My book is about the characters, not the one little device that just happens to set the story in motion.

 

My brother was relentless after reading the manuscript a while ago. 

 

“It’s science fiction,” he told me.  My brother should know, he’s read nearly every science fiction author out there (that is not hyperbole.  He can finish a book in under two hours.  He’d definitely win the competitive reading contest at Coney Island, if only they had one).

 

“It’s not science fiction,” I said, “because it’s not about that element.  It’s about the characters.”

 

“It’s science fiction,” he repeated, just to annoy me, because that is what brothers do.

 

And then there was my father.  “Science fiction,” he pronounced for the millionth time we discussed it.

 

“But it isn’t really.” 

 

My father, who does not like to annoy me, kept silent.   And then there was my mother.

 

“It’s science fiction,” she said. 

 

“Not really,” I said, “not totally.”

 

With that one simple question posed in a string of useful tips, I returned to my well of denial and grabbed the rope.  What on earth was I fighting?  Many of my favorite writers are classified as science fiction, or were, until they were bumped over to literature.  Kurt Vonnegut, for example.  In fact, I met him once (I know, it was like the most exciting moment of my life, I could barely speak, and suddenly those pictures of girls screaming over the Beatles made sense), and in my one allotted question (I cheated, I asked two, and they practically had to drag me away so the line could move, it might have been a little embarrassing) I asked him if he considered himself to be a science fiction writer.  In that sardonic way, with that little smile, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “I write about science because that’s what I know, so they call that science fiction,” or thereabouts.  What a delightfully perfect answer.

 

But it’s not only Vonnegut.  Margaret Atwood, Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams, Audrey Niffenegger.  What on earth was my problem?  The catalyst for my protagonist’s growth was unquestionably borne of science fiction.  So what?

 

I called my brother early on Saturday morning, hoping to wake him, but with no such luck.

 

“Hey,” he said.

 

“Ok,” I said, “It’s science fiction.”

 

“Told you,” he said, and then took the moment to laugh with a gloat perfected over a lifetime. 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009.

 

“I don’t think they read your query,” my Dad says for the hundredth time in an attempt to make feel not-loserish.

 

“But they all say they read every query,” I say.  “It just didn’t grab them.”

 

Thursday, February 26, 2009.

 

“I don’t think they read your query,” says my friend, whom I will call Miranda, as that is not her name.

 

“But they all say they read every query,” I say with slightly less conviction. 

 

Is it possible that all of those interviews, blogs and posts are actually artful sculpting of the truth?  Could it be that they did not, in fact, read my query?  It’s impossible to know with the standard rejection.  Time to revisit that query.

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