Please welcome my guest, Lucienne Diver!
The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
by Lucienne Diver
Do you remember growing up reading the Seuss story The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins? Well, young master Cubbins has me beat, but only by about 497 hats. I wear at least three: agent, author, mom. Wife fits in there somewhere. And sun-worshipper. Beader, scrapbooker, house-cleaner, travel-enthusiast… Okay, so maybe he doesn’t have me beat by that much. Not that it’s a competition. Really. Type A personality with time urgency issues doesn’t mean I can’t relax and go with the flow, does it?
Well, okay, so it does. I carve into sleep to come up with a writing schedule and a lot of my hobbies, like the beading, scrapbooking and, er, housecleaning, have mostly fallen by the wayside to make room for my all-consuming passions: my authors, my writing and my family (the order ever-changing depending on the time of day and level of enthusiasm/grief). So, how do I reconcile these three?
People seem constantly surprised that I have an agent who isn’t me or even closely related to represent my work. This is because I need distance from the day to day part of my career. I don’t want to obsess about when my work goes out and when it comes back, though my agent does keep me in the loop. I find that as a writer, I’m insecure. Neurotic, even. I want a filter, someone who can view and translate things dispassionately and who will push me when I put something out there and hope no one will notice the wing and a prayer portions of our program. It’s funny that even when I know things as they relate to my authors’ careers, I need to hear them in relation to my own. In other words, my author-self doesn’t necessarily internalize what my agent-self knows.
Now, as an agent I have over sixteen years in the business. I’m pretty confident and comfortable in what I’m doing. I’m constantly talking to editors and authors and getting in data via Publishers Lunch, Shelf Awareness, Media Bistro, Twitter, Locus, SF Scope, Romantic Times, Publishers Weekly. A whole bunch of info that I process along with my day to day experience and put together into a big picture, along with mental projections about the state and future of the industry. I adore my authors. During the bulk of the day, I’m focused on the business and on them. (I.e., I don’t have time to obsess about my own work, and that’s just the way I like it.)
At night, “my time,” well, that’s ever changing as well. Part of it I give over to my family, of course. Wrestling with the puppy, playing games with my son, actually sneaking glances at my husband to remind myself that his eyes are blue and rather stunning in the sunlight. Part of it I spend reading. I write early in the mornings, around 6 a.m. so that I wake up before my inner editor, but if I’m in the home stretch on a novel or in the plotting stage, I may do a bit of that in the evening as well. Very occasionally, I’ll actually (gasp) take a break and watch something like Castle or So You Think You Can Dance (my only reality-esque show addiction).
But I find that my brain never stops working. I might have an “Ah ha!” moment as I’m brushing my teeth about just the right way to word a letter to an editor or a plot point that’s been eluding me. I’ll wake up knowing something about my work I had no idea of when I laid me down to sleep. The good thing is that no matter how many hats you wear or how you divide yourself, your other personas are always in the background, fully aware, working things out in your “absence.” It’s the ultimate multi-tasking. And yes, it’s a challenge, but it’s also a thrill. Remember that whole Type A thing? A day without a good challenge is like ice without the cream.
Lucienne Diver is an agent for over forty authors of commercial fiction, particularly in the areas of fantasy, romance, mystery, suspense and YA. Her young adult vampire series began in 2009 with Vamped and continues in 2010 with Revamped, following the humorous adventures of Gina Covello, fashionista of the damned.