For the past year and a half I have been looking for an agent for my latest novel. I’ve had two requests in that time from important agents, one who is considered a top London agent, the other, a well -known and respected New Yorker. Both asked for full manuscripts, neither followed up.
Rejection letters from other agents who have seen samples are highly complementary and respectful of the writing but invariably end with, ‘I’m not passionate enough…’, which I understand to be a euphemism for, ‘It’s not bankable.’
Eight books ago, my first novel made it to Little Brown, where it spent a summer and was considered, quote: ‘Important’, but rejected for being, ‘…too high-brow for our commercial lists’. Since, I have self -published idiosyncratic books that gave me great satisfaction to write and which were praised by the few who read my work.
The dilemma now is not even what to do with the current book-I suppose if all else fails I can self-publish again and knock myself out trying to market it, but whether to continue to write fiction at all.
I have to ask myself, if the market doesn’t want my work, am I just indulging in an expensive and time consuming hobby? Am I deluding myself that this novel, or the next, will be the one which will allow me to write professionally?
I suppose there are those who have starved for their art, but I am not made of such stern stuff. And yet there’s an idea that’s been hovering at the edge of my consciousness as I’ve denied it, refusing to begin anything new until the last book pays off. It’s taking shape in two versions, and maybe it will amount to two books. But I can see the opening now: A woman in a khaki raincoat riding a bicycle down an allee of trees, headed for a small country house. There’s her absent and cheerfully unaware art historian husband, and there is the dark painter who intrigues her, but is he someone who is threatening her equilibrium now or is he from the distant past –his story waiting to be uncovered? What will she find out about herself, and more importantly what will I discover as I plummet the inner world of my own psyche?
So the final question remains: Should one keep indulging oneself? Is the satisfaction of producing alternate realities on the computer screen worth sacrificing time that could be spent more lucratively elsewhere?
I don’t know the answer to that question or what I intend to do about it, yet.