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MFA in Writing at Vermont College

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Flowers, Literary Agents and My Mother

Tom Waits is “big in Japan.”
David Hasselhoff is huge in Germany.

I, however, am big… at the Janesville Rotary Botanical Gardens!

That’s right.  Thanks to the mega-marketing machine called Mom, the employees of the Botanical Garden are discussing my blog while pruning petunias and trimming tulips.  In the span of a week my mother has managed to double my readership.  Check out my newest readers at the below link… and tell them that Jeff sent you… fine tell them that Jeff’s mom sent you!


I have no smooth transition from flowers to literary agents so I won’t even try.  I will just abruptly change topics on you.

I recently read an article that compared finding a literary agent to choosing a marriage partner.  I will admit as I was reading the article I had some trouble with the analogy.  Sure, I get it… if you are going to choose a literary agent to represent your work you need someone you can completely trust, someone you can work with, someone who will guide you and be there through the good times and the bad.  On a very simple platform this analogy works.  However, what if you were a dork?

Let me explain.

Look at this picture of me in high school.  This is me at graduation surrounded by several of my friends.  I am the one in the middle behind everyone.  What do you notice about this picture? Okay… stop it… it was the eighties and we all looked that way back then!

Do you know what I notice?

I notice the fact that I am in the back, behind everyone else.  This is pretty much where I was in every picture back then.  I never liked to stand out. I never wanted to be the center of attention.  I was quiet and shy and comfortable with standing in the background. In other words I was a dork.

You know what else I notice about that picture?  There are no girls around! None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.  In fact, the only picture of me with a girl back then would be if she happened to walk by in the background while the picture was being taken.  Look at the girls in this picture.  I am the farthest thing from their minds. Girls didn’t even know I existed back in high school.  Girls had more lively discussions about the rat in the gym locker room than about me.  You could take the five most popular girls in school and they may not even remember me.  I was not even a blip on their radar screen.  In other words I was a dork!

So to me… finding a literary agent is not like finding a marriage partner.  To me it is more like being back in high school and trying to date the most popular girl in school… the most popular girl in school who doesn’t even know I exist.

Literary agents receive hundreds of manuscripts a day.  They represent big name authors who win flashy awards and actually make money on their books.  They entertain the captain of the football team while everyone else is trying to get their attention.  They are the prom queens of the literary world.

I am once again a dork.  I am in the back trying desperately to be seen, too shy to step from the shadows.

I beg you literary agents… don’t overlook the shy kids in the back.  There might just be someone there who is full of potential and talent.  Someone who is willing to work his tail off to be special.  Someone who will go head over heels for you if given the chance.  Someone who could change your life. 

Give the kid in the back a chance…

… otherwise he will sic his mother on you!




  1. I'll be impressed when Racine Belles legend Kit Keller becomes one of your followers.

    1. That is one of the best baseball replys ever! I am laughing out loud.

  2. Jeff... as one of the, what, 35 people (maybe) in our graduating class, I'm going on the record to say you were not a dork. Shy, yes--dork, no. I don't think a single one of my fellow girls in the class ever thought of you that way. :)