For a long time, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after college. Publisher or author? Or both? Being an agent assistant at #MWW16 has helped me see that I do, in fact, want to be an agent above everything else. Seeing how my agent interacts with writers has been magical in a way I can't put into words. Also seeing how agents have formed relationships with writers they've signed has been amazing. This whole experience has put my life and future into perspective.
My first pitch session with Rachel Ekstrom was probably the most nerve-wracking but thrilling experience in my life. We had just gotten done with the All Agent Panel and barely made it up to the third floor in time for the first pitch. We made it just in time for Rachel to get settled in at her table before I went to get our first pitch. Until Friday, I had no idea how fast five minutes could fly by. Jacqueline came in, introduced herself, and immediately jumped into her pitch. The whole time, I couldn’t stop watching how intensely Rachel was listening to Jacqueline. She was taking everything in and I could see the gears working in her head. Rachel then asked about comp titles and about a specific thread that was in the novel, and the whole process was mesmerizing.
Friday, Rachel and I were all over the place, jumping between the second and third floor. She was on three panels, all of which I got to sit in on. Of the three, my favorite had to be the Agent/Author Relationship panel. Because, not only were Rachel and Amy Reichert on the panel, but so were Molly Jaffa with Julie Murphy and Natalie Parker, and Uwe Stender, Brent Taylor, and Summer Heacock. It was nice getting to see the relationships that were built all on an idea for a novel. Relationships like those are ones I strive to have.
The rest of Friday consisted of more pitches (some of which Rachel asked for pages of or for the full manuscript) and some query critiques. It was a packed schedule but it was worth every minute of exhaustion and craziness. After the delicious Italian dinner we had, I went to two buttonhole sessions, one with Karma Brown and one with Amy Reichert (ahhh!). In those two 20 minute sessions alone, I learned more about publicists and genre than I could have ever imagined. It was so much fun!
AND THEN, it was book signing time! I went straight to Lori Rader-Day, because she’s Lori Rader-Day and she’s freaking awesome. And, then I made my way to Amy Reichert and had her sign both of the books I own of hers. But, above all else, I think my favorite part of the night was when pictures were taken. I got a picture with Amy Reichert, squeeze-hugging me! And then I got a picture with Julie Murphy, which was probably one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Then, it was photo booth time with my girls (Lauren, Amanda, Rachel, and Rachel). And finally, I ended the night with a picture with Lori Rader-Day.
After the lovely Amanda Byk picked me up for the day, the two of us spent our morning in the pitch room, bonding more than we had before. At about 10:00 am, we went down a floor to make sure our agents got to the places where they needed to be next. For Rachel: query critiques. For Lauren: just some time alone. Rachel and I made it through two critiques before we got a break. During that short amount of time, we talked about being an agent and New York. Also during that break, Rachel looked at me and said, “I should ask you more about what you thought of the pitches!” And she did. She asked me which ones I liked the most and if I enjoyed a pitch. It was the experience I wanted and I got it.
During a two and a half hour break and Rachel’s nap, I got to enjoy the teaching of Ashley Ford. In a short hour, I learned more about unfinished essay than I could have ever imagined. She used a metaphor of an unfinished essay is like a sculptor and that the essay just needed to be chipped away until the real essay is found. It was the greatest lecture/session I had been to. I learned so much and changed my thinking process about essays.
And then it was time for Julie Murphy’s keynote speech. As a woman that is heavier than others, Julie’s speech really spoke to me. Not just about that, but because she put everything bad that happened in this world in the last month or so into perspective and it changed everything I thought I knew. It was beautiful and brilliant. She’s beautiful and brilliant.
As the night came to a close, as sad as it was, I got to spend time with the brilliant minds behind the whole Workshop, I took a lot of pictures, laughed and smiled a lot. It was the perfect ending to the perfect workshop known as Midwest Writer’s Workshop.