# of pages revised: 14
# of agents queried: 2
Today I queried my twenty-ninth agent. Out of those twenty-nine agents, seven of them, so far, have responded – that’s a respectable 24% response. And out of those seven who responded, four of them requested that I send my full manuscript. Of course, they all ultimately said no to the novel, but still, this means that 14% of all the agents I’ve queried have been significantly interested in my manuscript.
Today I signed up to read at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference, where I’ll be teaching a workshop in February. A big part of me wants to read something I’ve already read at other conferences – something that I know is a crowd-pleaser – but I know I really should read from my novel and announce that I’m currently seeking representation. I’m sort of afraid to do that, though, for fear of sounding pushy, or like I’m having trouble getting an agent (which I am). And what if my novel sucks and everyone is sitting there secretly thinking, no wonder she can’t find representation. It would be embarrassing and scary – putting myself out there like that.
Which is ironic, because I’ve really been putting myself out there a lot lately. Since I started this blog in late August, I’ve written approximately 122,000 words, all about me. At this point I’m feeling pretty narcissistic.
“Eva, it’s too much,” my mom told me yesterday. She was offended by the title of my blog from the other day because it contained the word “penis.”
“You’re writing blogs about your relationship and saying all this personal stuff,” she said, shaking her head. “You’re really putting yourself out there. I don’t know.”
I don’t know either. Is it wise to share so much with the world? Why, exactly, am I doing it?
“What does Paul think about you sharing all this stuff about him?” my mom asked.
“I don’t think he minds,” I said. But suddenly, I wasn’t so sure. I made a mental note to ask him.
* * *
Speaking of sharing, I share a lot of personal information with Sergey, my Ukrainian tutee. I talk to him nearly every day on Skype, and sometimes I run out of questions to ask him, so I talk about myself. He knows, for example, that I went to a birthday party on Saturday and for a hike on Sunday. He knows that I like goat cheese and The Great Gatsby and that my mom’s cat’s name is Zoe.
But, weirdly, he knows next to nothing about my new boyfriend Paul or my feelings about writing or my philosophical questions about life – things that the strangers who read my blog know all about. Why am I fine with sharing intimate on my blog, but it’s so much harder to talk about with people I see on a regular basis?
* * *
It seems like over-sharing is what our society is all about at the moment. We’re living in the era of facebook and Twitter and taking pictures of the dinner you just cooked so you can post it online and immediately let everyone know what you’re eating. If I’m over-sharing on my blog posts, at least everyone else is over-sharing, too.
For example, I just noticed that my friend posted on facebook a link to her journalist-fiance’s most recent article on BostInno.com. It’s about how he proposed to her and spent New Years with her and her family watching Magic Mike (that movie with Matthew McConaughay’s abs.) So even in his paid career as a journalist, he’s writing about himself.
And right now I’m reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she basically shares every possible detail about herself and Felipe, her husband-to-be. I just finished the part where she relays an intimate conversation in which they listed and described their biggest flaws. “I’d certainly never codified my failings for anyone so honestly before,” Gilbert writes, apparently trying to communicate what a big deal it was that she shared this information with Felipe, but of course this loses it’s emphasis due to the fact that she has now shared this information with the entire world.
Not that I don’t get where she’s coming from. I had to hold myself back from producing a list of my own biggest flaws and posting it right here on this blog. For some reason, there’s something attractive about being that honest.
But what’s more attractive, I think, is sharing intimate details about yourself from a safe distance. Because I can assure you, I am not nearly as likely to just spout off a list of my biggest flaws to anyone willing to listen. Just like I’m not sitting on Skype babbling to Sergey about my feelings or my burgeoning relationship. It’s too scary to be honest to someone’s face. What if the person laughs at you? Or grimaces? What if they yawn? What if they tell you you’re being stupid?
At least, when I’m sharing my thoughts online, I don’t have to see the reactions. And if people are bored, they can stop reading — I’ll never know.
I’d like to say that I over-share on this blog because I’m not afraid of who I am, and I’m not afraid of what people think of me. But that’s not true at all. I’m always worrying about how others see me and what they think of me.
That’s why I don’t mind sending out query letters — it’s safe. I’m not there when the agent reads my synopsis and first chapter. I’m not there to see it if she rolls her eyes or makes snide remarks. All I see is the polite rejection email, and I can handle that. What will be scary is going to the San Miguel Conference, knowing that there are agents there, and knowing I could go up to the them and start talking about my novel in person. Yikes.
Because it doesn’t take that all that many guts to over-share on the Internet. What takes guts is to share face-to-face and see the other person’s reaction.