This is going to sound very, very silly but one my main motivations for trying to find an agent is that I want to know who I am as a writer. Let me explain. Ever since I started writing (kindergarten, I think: I wrote an interpretation of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" that was much lauded by my teachers) I have written stories for the age group I was in. When I was in primary school, I wrote children’s stories, when I was in early highschool I wrote middle grade stories, late high school YA stories. Up until recently I had the idea that YA is where I would stay. Perhaps this is because I still see myself as a young adult. An adult? Who me?
And then I sent out queries for TE. Turns out it isn’t a fully YA story. I probably should have figured this out on my own: There’re no school, teachers or parents in my story. Other than one minor character, Ophelia is actually the only teenager in the story. Yes, I am an idiot. So I’ve been querying a range of agents to see where I get the responses, and this will give me a bit of direction, a bit of self-actualization.
What kind of writer am I? Am I really a young adult writer? Or am I an adult writer? And if adult (which I know nothing about as I always thought I would end up in YA) where exactly? Urban fantasy? Mystery? Thriller? Romantic suspense?
They say you should write the book of your heart and this will give you an idea of what kind of writer you are. For instance, Carrie Ryan always thought she was a chick-lit writer, and she spent years trying to write in this genre, without success. Then one year she sat down and wrote the story she wanted to write, without thought to genre or self-catagorizing. She ended up writing a YA literary zombie book which sold a few months after she sent it out. Obviously she is not a chick-lit writer. Problem is, I’ve already done this. TE was the book of my heart. I paid no attention to the age of my characters or other YA conventions (because I really thought I was writing YA), I just wrote the story I wanted to.
So far my responses have been a bit of a mixed bag. Bearing in mind that most of my queries are as of yet unanswered, I’ve had one request from a YA agent, and one request from an agent who reps both YA and adult, but to which I descibed TE as an adult urban fantasy. The first (YA) agent absolutely loved my story and thought I was a very strong writer, but wanted me to revise in some YA conventions (ie parents/other teenagers) to make it more clearly a YA story. The second agent just requested the full this morning and I haven’t yet heard her thoughts.
So what if I’m not the YA writer I thought I was? What if TE is actually an adult book? I have no idea what genre it would fit into (urban fantasy is a bit of a stab in the dark). I have no idea what genre/kind of story I should write next. And this is my biggest issue. I really, really want to start writing my next project soon. I get itchy when I’m not actively working on a story. But I have a whole range of ideas and not much idea which direction to head in. One of the best things about agents is that they work as career counsellors as well as all their other job functions. An agent would be able to look at my writing and tell me which genre my voice lends itself to.
Sure, I’m still having YA ideas but I’m starting to realise that it’s all in the execution. If I write a ‘YA’ novel with only one teen character, it isn’t really YA. I’m less and less interested in writing about the struggle againts parental authority, or about school. I’m more interested in other, more obviously adult themes.
So that’s another reason I’m anxiously awaiting replies to my queries. Even the replies themselves will (hopefully) give me an idea of the direction I should head. Will I revise TE to be more in fitting with the YA genre? Maybe. I’m thinking on it, definitely not ruling anything out. But at the moment I’m actually leaning towards marketing it as an adult urban fantasy.
This scares the heck out of me. I’m no adult. Or am I?