My writing for publication goes first to my agent, then to an editor, then (if accepted) to a copy editor and production. So the agent’s call or email to give me his reaction to whatever (book, shorter work) is usually my first *professional* assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. The eyes on the work are new, and moreover they’re very, very experienced. Moreover, they see it in ways I can’t, because I don’t have the same experience of other peoples’ writing, the market, the editors, etc. On November 30, the agent called.
In my current situation, coming on three years since the publication of my last book, knowing I’ve had a concussion in the meantime, that my new work will be affected but not how, having an agent who is willing to read the rough draft and give his opinion of it…the same agent who has read *all* my book manuscripts…is invaluable. Between the time I sent it to him and his call, I was also re-reading it as a whole and starting to fix what I saw (more clearly, because one does after the thing is “finished”) as its problems. What he said did not surprise me–I had already spotted the flashing LEDs on the magenta and lime-green elephant squatting in the book–but I’d been staring at the obvious without seeing any way to return it anything useful. Thanks to him, I now have a Plan. We discussed several approaches, discarded some early thoughts, and I now have a more tenable plan than “Gotta fix that, gotta fix that, how the heck can I fix THAT?”
Neither of us wants me to be writing less and less interesting Vatta books into my 90s. My 90s, if I get there and if I’m still writing, should be full of what *I* want to do, she says selfishly. So Vatta’s Peace the group needs to come to an end. No end satisfies everyone, but an end that satisfies me, my agent, and my editor. This book isn’t the end, but the next one or two will be. Someone in one of those may say something like “You can’t kill us; we have no intention of killing you.” I know who will say it, if someone does, but am not yet sure I believe them.
Meanwhile back at the tiny ranch where two horses are munching away on breakfast hay, I need to find a title for New Book, but until I’ve converted that garish elephantine hole in the book into the right kind of PlotStuff, it’s going to be hard to think up a good one. You are free to wander about your imaginations and think of one.