The idea often strikes me that this novel is the main reason I was put on Earth, and that I have a responsibility to try to get it out there. (I also often dismiss this as magical thinking and tell myself I should grow up, suck up more at work, and then go fix the weed whacker.)
I got this response today from that agent:
Jake, I’ve read half your novel, and there’s so much to love. You’re really funny, and I’m fascinated by this look into ((the)) culture ((of the place where I work)). And what you’ve done with the...worldbuilding (I HATE that word but I’m using it anyway) is rather impressive. However, I’m struggling to find the takeaway. It’s clever and you’re obviously talented, but I’m not finding the depth or layers necessary needed for me to feel the satire is working at the level it has to in order succeed in this tough literary fiction arena.
For like thirty seconds, I thought I'd found an agent, and was on my way to getting this book published. Getting the agent seems to be the biggest of the hurdles. This was the first time I'd even gotten one to pay attention enough to ask for the manuscript, although I felt like the premise was at least compelling enough I thought I'd get a lot more knee-jerk interest.
It's a really kind, decent email, and I can't say a thing bad about the agent. He was incredibly fast and sympathetic and seemed to get it. He's in a tough business where you have to make quick decisions about what you think you can sell. I get it. I make quick decisions all the time at the magazine about what I think we should publish and what we shouldn't. I totally understand. Still sucks for me.
I'm really not the kind of person who just brushes off setbacks. I can't even think about another query letter right now. There was a time in my life when I had put writing away, embraced bourgeois normalcy, and felt rather content. Why did I ever start writing again and ruin that tenuous balance that only holds if you don't ask questions of it? I'm much less happy now than I was five years ago. Common sense would seem to dictate that if something is making you unhappy, you should quit doing it, but every time I try, I end up back at the computer trying to write that one more story or try one last place to submit something.
I am so tired of being good but not good enough.