Monday, July 19, 2010

Things not to be

This literary agency has a helpful list of "Things To Be" and "Not to Be":
Things to Be:
- Confident
- Talented
- Marketable
- Objective
- Scrupulously Self-Critical
- Patient
- A Good Typist

Things Not To Be:
  • Insecure - If you lack confidence in yourself, in your writing, or in your ability to become a full-time freelance writer, you'll never be able to stand up to the rigors and the brickbats that lay ahead.

  • Marginally Talented - If you haven't yet developed into the kind of writer who works diligently at turning out only the best examples of whatever literary genre you're creating, you're not ready for agency representation.

  • Conveniently Self-Forgiving - No one--from Ernest Hemingway to Homer and back again--ever wrote a single draft that "sang." Every writer worth the name knows when and how to rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite some more.

  • ...
More at the link. I guess if you weren't sufficiently "Confident" this would scare you off, but I don't think it's bad advice. But I'm not sure there are that many people who combine the qualities of being confident while at the same time are "Scrupulously Self-Critical."

In this Galleycat interview, the agent goes on to request "fiction that is starkly unique and startlingly appealing," qualifying that requirement with "at least." It's good to set the bar high, but how many people who pass all these criteria would really be good? Can I think my work is "starkly unique" and at the same time be "scrupulously self-critical"? Man.

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