Dear Your Sharkliness,
Many months ago, you answered a question on the blog for me. I was going to a conference to read my opening pages to an agent and gain feedback from the agent and the other writers.
I went to the conference, pages in trembling hand. I took everyone's main advice, which was to sit there with my mouth shut and my ears open. Both agents I had the privilege to meet gave me similar feedback. I smiled, nodded, and took feverish notes. My fellow writers also gave advice (sometimes contradictory); I wrote it all down.
It should be noted that clearly some of the other attendees do NOT read the blog. They challenged each other and the agents. I tried not to visibly cringe. The agents were lovely. Their responses were something along the lines of, "I've been doing this for over a decade, and your word count is really too low, but maybe you are right and you are the exception." One person tried to shove a paper copy of his manuscript into an agent's hand. The agent politely gave him her card to refer to her submission requirements on her website. To her credit, she did not try to shove it up his nose.
I queried the agents I met at the conference, after making changes. Both requested fulls. Both rejected the fulls. However, one gave me some lovely feedback. I realized I needed a break from that manuscript. I took some of the big picture advice I gained from the conference and wrote a new manuscript. I queried that, and signed with an amazing agent this week.
In conclusion: thank you Janet, for your advice and for this community. I understand why writers want to cry bitter tears into their shark fin soup, it is so difficult. (Or maybe that's just me.) But this has taught me, again, that publishing is a long game and persistence and humility can pay off in the long run.