Today is the final day of the lessons I learned / remembered at the SCBWI Tokyo Mary Kole event.
5. Agents are real people too.
Tokyo is not the smallest branch of SCBWI. It's probably not far from though. And it's got to be one of the most functional for it's size. I think the Mary Kole event might be the biggest SCBWI Tokyo event that I've been to. There were about 40 of us.
I say that to say this: going to an event with us is a very personal endeavour. I wasn't one of hundreds or thousands. I was one of 40. At lunch and dinner, I was one of 8 and 12. It meant I got a lot of opportunity to interact with Miss Kole.
At meals, we didn't talk about publishing at all. We talked like an old friend had come to visit. We talked about food. And travel. And growing up. And things to see and do in Japan and Hong Kong. More than ever before an agent become something more than a voice on a podcast, a name on a website, or a face in a 2 x 4 pixellated square.
Realistically, we all know that agents have lives outside publishing. They have things they love and hate. Families. Hobbies other than reading. But we're writers. What does realism have to do with anything? So often we forget the people side, and we think of agents as just another cog in the publishing wheel. As the evil step-mother who's just looking for a reason to lock our manuscript away in a tower somewhere.
Thing is, if agents are real people, (and they are) then they've got some things in common with us. This industry we're in is a tough one. It's always been, but it's getting tougher. And if they're in it, that probably means they love it as much as we do. If they're reading queries, that's not because writing rejection letters makes them giggle like Pee Wee Herman. It's because they want to find a gem, fall in love, laugh, cry, have an adventure, discover a new world. It's because they want to give those same things to the rest of the world.
Thanks to Mary Kole for reminding me.
And thanks to all the fantastic people who keep this industry running like a well-oiled machine. To the agents *raises imaginary champagne * Thanks for keeping it real.