Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bring Out Your Dead … and Your Queries

I just watched the city’s Christmas tree truck roll by, trawling for dead Christmas trees left by the side of the road. It’s put me in a Hamletian sort of mood, which is why I am gravely reflecting on the nature of time.

Specifically I am thinking about the way time moves when one is in the process of querying a novel. Of all the aspects of the writing life that I find most difficult, this is it -- the excruciating process of waiting for a response from the publishing establishment.

You see, there is a vast disconnect between Agent Time and Writer Time. Agents are on geological time whereas we writers, we see time the way fruit flies do. If we query and don’t get a response by the end of the week, we’re gonna DIE. For us it’s metaphorical, of course, whereas for fruit flies, alas, they don't make jokes like that because other fruit flies do not find them one bit funny.

Agents, on the other hand, at any given moment, are still making their way through a pile of queries from the Mesozoic Period and maybe sometime in late April, they might get to the queries from the Paleocene Age. Which means I’ve still got about fifty million years, give or take a million, before they get to mine.

It is the nature of the business. I understand that. Reading takes time, as well it should. There is no bad guy here except time. Unfortunately, my handicap of impatience doesn’t help matters one little bit. Frankly, I could think of ways to pass the hours, but apparently some people out there have a problem with daytime drinking. They think it’s “wrong” or that it’s indicative of a “problem,” especially when you’re “alone” or when you’re supposed to be watching “your kids.”

I would just like to point out to these finger-waggers that even A.A. recognizes certain situations when solitary daytime drinking is permissible, and querying comes it at a respectable number 11 on the their Top 20 list of Reasons It’s OK to Shut the Door and Drink Yourself into Oblivion. The problem is I gave up booze for a while – specifically my beloved Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout -- with the dawn of the New Year because it makes me fat. (That is your ONLY debit, O Beloved Stout. OK, that and the fact that you are only made seasonally, and I am high and dry from March through September, which makes me very sad several months of the year).

Well. There it is. There’s nothing for it. Time waits for no man, and it doesn’t hurry up for us women either. And it certainly is no friend to writers.

If you’ve got 'em, I would love to hear some suggestions for ways to pass the time, but please keep in mind that I hate scrapbooking, cleaning my house, and yoga. Anything else, though – I’m game to hear it.