I've waffled over whether or not I should post about the biggest WTF-thing that's happened to me lately. (Or, quite possibly, ever?) But after hanging out with my emotions for the past three weeks, there are a few things I want to say.
I'm in a situation no writer can anticipate or prepare for... I still have my agent, but the agency employing her closed overnight. Adding insult to injury, we found out she was committing fraud. Yep. If you're involved with the KidLit community, you probably know where I'm going with this. My former agency was Lupine Grove Creative, a small boutique agency with around 40-50 authors and illustrators, most of them represented by Danielle Smith. My agent, Jennie Kendrick, was hired in January of 2018, and she's just the loveliest human being. We were all blindsided by Danielle's misdeeds, and three weeks later, we're still picking up the pieces. (If you're unsure of what I'm talking about, read more here. It's one wildly depressing ride.)
When you sign with an agent, you do your research. And I did. I am a diligent motherfucking researcher. Since my agent was new to the game (I was the second client she signed), I researched her agency, her boss, and her boss's clients. There were zero red flags. Zero. I found one or two unhappy former clients, but there's always going to be an unhappy client, even with the best agents. My interactions with Danielle Smith were limited to my offer phone call, which was a conference call with the three of us, and maybe two emails? When I spoke with her, she was nice and positive. Again, zero red flags.
I've been so confused, so heartbroken, in the aftermath because it just doesn't make sense. Some people are drawn to lying, to deception. Maybe she got in over her head. No one really knows. I'm enraged on behalf of my former LGC agency siblings. I'm also enraged on my own behalf, on my agent's behalf. When Danielle shut down LGC overnight, with no warning, she wrenched my career off track. Hell, she lifted the train off the tracks and tossed it into the void. And she wasn't even my agent! But above all, my heart bleeds for her former clients, and I hope they all find new homes with agents who deserve their incredible talents.
Because of Danielle, my agent no longer has an agency or an employer, and until she finds a new agency, she can't do her job. Everything is on pause. Everything is uncertain. Everything kind of sucks. I'm sticking with my agent, and she still represents me, but everything that's happened since LGC closed has been straight-up goodwill. No contracts, just good people sticking up for one another and fighting for each other. Right now, I have to roll with the punches because even if I didn't choose this outcome, this is my current path. This is my journey. And as incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking as it's been, it's mine.
Needless to say, this whole situation is beyond bizarre. I try to remain calm and wait out the storm. But let's be real, I'm angry. Angry because the things I've worked tirelessly towards were taken from me overnight. Angry because I've lost other opportunities due to the fact that I'm technically not an agented writer right now. I'm also scared. Scared I might miss out on something great because of this momentary derailment.
In my darkest moments, I feel lesser than because of all the above. I cycle through feeling stupid, betrayed, and depressed. But instead of stewing in the negative emotions, I have to believe karma's going to do her sweet justice in the end. Life has a certain random element to it, but I also hope that good things happen to good people. And bad people--people who screw over around forty or fifty other people depending on them--will eventually get their comeuppance. (A girl can dream, right?)
Anyway. What I'm constantly reminding myself lately is that my self-worth as a writer is the same as it was before LGC closed. Your stock as a writer (and a human being!) does not go up or down whether or not you have an agent or an agency. This is nothing revolutionary. But it's so important to remember because nothing is forever. Life can change overnight. What matters if finding the people who will stick up for you, are honest with you, and have your back.
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