Sep 21, 2012

Wondering if I glimpse the life of an agent

I teach high school English, which provides great joy and great frustration, and not always equally.  Yesterday, I was grading essays that students had to write in class - no fixing, no revision, just butt in chair, pen in hand, 60 minutes, go.  And as I was grading yesterday, I lost track of the number of times I wrote "almost a thesis" or "so what" because key elements to a good essay were missing.

When I first started teaching, I would feel sorrow for the kids who did poorly, trying to find a way to let their grade be better, trying not to crush their spirits, but realized no one improved.  I graded mundane after mundane until I was about to go insane (HAHA, rhyme).

After my critique group last night, it hit me.  That's the life of an agent.  That's why they can't take the time to write lovely letters about suggested improvements to everyone because one, we might be writing about something that they just aren't interested in and two, they have lives outside of the office.

The difference between the teacher and the agent is I try to find ways to help my students work improve - that's my job.  But it isn't an agent's job, not unless you are their client.  This is why we need the community, the CP's and beta readers and even a whole bunch of people looking at snippets of work - their response, or lack, is our grade.  And just as I'm subjective as an English teacher (there's no way about it), so are readers with ours.

We just have to ask ourselves if we are satisfied with a life of just passing or if we really want to get the A, exceed our own expectations, and push ourselves to be better than we already are.

Every. Single. Day.

What do you do to improve your work? How do you strive to be better?  Got writer plans this weekend?


Steve Finnell said...
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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good point! The agent is looking for the best work, not to help every writer whose work crosses his desk.
My critique partners and test readers have made such a difference. Sometimes I'll write a sentence and I can hear one of them in the back of my head say "No, that's not right" and I fix it. Eventually it becomes habit and I no longer make that mistake.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Very good point! It's just too bad we don't always know whether they're passing because our books just aren't their thing or if the query sucks.

Andrew Leon said...

My issue with agents is that they don't actually do their jobs. Well, they do the job they do for the publishers, but they're not supposed to work for the publisher; they're supposed to work for the writer. They -should- be looking for clients, which means reading every single submission they get, but they don't do that.
Anyway... That's a longer and more involved rant than I have time for.

I feel your pain on the grading of papers, though. I have a stack of stories I need to do, right now.

Jessie Humphries said...

No writer plans this weekend. I am definitely in a writing slump because of the whole querying thing. I'm taking a "breath." haha. I'm gonna go golfing! In Hurricane! I'll wave to you :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Great insight. My very bestest beta reader is a high school english teacher. She cuts me no slack which is what I need and also will jot little lessons in the margins.
Writer plans, catch up on blogging and work on Futhark #4

Annalisa Crawford said...

That's a great way to look at it. I'll try to remember that next time I submit something :-)

Suzanne Furness said...

I hadn't thought of it like that but it is a good point! It would be nice to get the gold sticker rather than a 'could do better' though. New Follower btw good to meet you.

Nicole said...

Ha - very interesting perspective!

Jess Stork said...

This is a great point Tasha. I think that that's one of the greatest points about the blogging community. Even if you don't live around a writer community, blogging gives you options, helps you meet beta readers, critiquers and other like-minded writers.
I used to be a teacher too, so I know where you're coming from.