There was a debate yesterday at Nathan Bransford's blog about whether or not writers should seek advice about representation for their first book. The assumption one poster made was that you have to write 10-12 books before you can be considered a real writer, and that if you are hanging out on agent blogs, you aren't really serious about doing the hard work of getting your novel written. I came in late to the discussion, but wanted to put my comment up here for your perusal:
Not to stir up the old debate here, but I have an observation about the whole "writing lots of books before looking for agenting advice" thing. Perhaps this will explain to certain posters why people like me are doing what we are doing - i.e. looking for lots of advice while working on our first (or nearly first) manuscript.
I am almost 39. I have been writing stories since I was a kid, and attempted a couple of novels before this one. My English teachers always told me I was very talented.
But, I also have technical skills and stopped writing in order to pursue an M.S., get a job in a technical field (clinical research), get married, stay married, and have a child with medical issues. My life has been hectic, to say the least.
But now I am teaching part-time and finding that the lid on Pandora's box won't stay shut any more. I have to pursue my dream or die.
But I am writing in isolation. I know no one else who writes, I am not hanging around literary types, I teach math and statistics all day, and I married a guy who doesn't even like to read. So the Internet is my only connection with other writers and with the publishing world.
As well, EVERY SINGLE article, speaker or author about writing says that you have to write what agents want. The very first person I ever heard talk about writing was from some tapes my mom brought back from a writer's conference she attended, and he said that you shouldn't write ANYTHING at all until you've sold the proposal. Otherwise, it's a waste of your time. "Don't write for free," he said.
I found out since then that although this may be true for non-fiction, it is not true for fiction. But, taking his advice, I did craft a proposal for a novel and submit it to a publisher. It was rejected, but she took enough time to send me a letter explaining her reasons and asking for more things from me in the future. That encouraged me to try to find out more and to keep writing.
So here I am... and that's why.
Oh, and, like Laura, I really love THIS book and THESE characters, and want them to have a fair chance at getting published.
(As well as justifying all the time I've spent on this to my spouse.)