Thus Spoke My Cheerleader

Every writer needs a cheerleader. And here I introduce my one-person cheerleading squad. My six-year-old (six and three quarters actually, according to her) daughter has been my official cheerleader since the day she found out I was writing a book. 

Following are the bits and pieces from our conversations at various occasions:

The first time she learned that I was working on a book:

Cheerleader: Go Daddy Go!

Writer: Thank you. That is very nice of you. Very encouraging.

Cheerleader: You know what? May be I can be the illustrator for your book. You know I’m very good at drawing and painting, right?

Writer: I know you’re a good artist, and I thank you for your willingness to help, but my book won’t have any pictures.

Cheerleader: That’s no fun. Too bad, nobody in my class will read it then.

When I told her that her name would be on the book somewhere:

Cheerleader: Then you need to really hurry up and get that book published.

Writer: Why is that?

Cheerleader: Because I want to show it to my friends at school.

Writer: What? The book?

Cheerleader: No. My name on the book.

The day she found out I was waiting to hear back from the agents:

(I only told her that the agents, the people who help me get my book published, need to read it before it can ever see the light of day. No need to give her a heartache explaining the entire publishing process)

Cheerleader: Oh, so the agents are reading it now?

Writer: Yes, they are.

Two days later:

Cheerleader: Did the agents like your book?

Writer: I don’t know yet.

Cheerleader: What? Didn’t they even tell you whether they liked it?

Writer: I think they’re still reading it.

Cheerleader: But it’s been two days already.

Writer: I know. But it’s a big book.

Cheerleader: Those agents are very slow readers. Even I can read one book in one day.

Few more days later:

Cheerleader: Are the agents done reading your book yet?

Writer: Not yet. Still reading, I guess.

Cheerleader: You need to call them and ask them to read it faster.

Writer: I can’t call them.

Cheerleader: Why? They don’t have phones?

Writer: They do, but I can’t call them.

Cheerleader: I bet their phones are broken and they’re as slow in fixing their phones as they’re in reading your book.

 

And how could I not cherish all that motivation, right?

 

The Waiting Game—Part II

Soon after the first batch of query letters were fired, my waiting game began, making me all excited and anxious at the same time. Within hours, responses started to trickle in.

As I’d initially expected, a few agents said they already had their plates full and weren’t taking any new clients at this time. Two agents requested for the full manuscript (you can only imagine how elated I must have felt instantly). Then the Christmas break kicked in, and my inbox became quiet as a morgue. Not even a rejection. But I waited and waited some more. I kept checking email even during the Christmas weekend. There must be at least one agent who reads (and replies to) his/her email even in a Christmas morning, right? No. They apparently don’t. Huge surprise there… :)

 And I waited for the weekdays, still peeking into my inbox every few hours. Funny thing about waiting—the time barely crawls when you’re waiting. Talk about the theory of relativity in full action. Though I knew impatience was a bad idea, I couldn’t help it. Then one day, my wish for a new email was granted: A firm rejection (I’m not the right agent for this project…). :(

As I prepare to send out the second round of query letters (about ten of them), I’ve come to realize that the process of querying literary agents is so similar to fishing: You get all hyped up about the whole process, try to prepare as flawlessly as you can, go to the lake, bait your hook, do some research and find out where the fish might be, throw your hook, wait for the fish to nibble on your bait, move your bait around impatiently, pull it out and check the bait, tweak it a bit here and there, throw it into the lake again, and wait and wait some more.