However my question still stands, why do you do this?
The easy answer now is that I'm not fit to do anything else.
But if you go back
Then, I took the first test in a math class whose name I'm completely blanking on but it was the one right after calculus. And I bombed the test. I mean, there was a crater next to the test station, smoke and the scent of singed hair. I'm not sure, but they might have called the paramedics.
I went to my advisor. I said "I just bombed this test." I was so shocked I actually wondered if there was an error on the test (there wasn't.)
My advisor asked me a couple questions.
(He was a really smart guy, and not just about math.)
Then he said "Janet, you don't think abstractly at all. You can't see what isn't there. Are you having trouble in the blueprint class?"
Well, yes I was. I thought it was cause I can't draw for shinola, and the class was at 7:30 in the morning, and it wasn't being held in my bedroom, so I had to get up at some unspeakable hour and get in the shower and out the door when sane people were still snugly abed.
My advisor said "I don't think engineering is going to work for you. What else do you like to do?"
And I said "read" and he said "the English department is just down the quad, go pay them a visit."
So I did.
And I enrolled in Survey of English Literature 101 (having never taken a lit class in my life) and was introduced to Chaucer and it was all over but the studying.
As it turns out, they'll give you a degree (with honors even!) if you're willing to read a lot of books and talk about them cogently.
They'll throw in another degree in history if you're willing to read more books about real events, write a hundred papers about those books, and sit in the library doing research for a couple years.
So, I graduated with degrees in history and English, and promptly went to work as a bookkeeper.
Cause, as it turns out they'll give you a degree for reading a lot, but they won't actually pay you a salary for doing so. (Believe me, I looked. That job Robert Redford has in Three Days of the Condor? NOT REAL!!!--I was heartbroken.)
So, life carries on, as it is wont to do, and one day, a friend of mine describes this cool new job she has that requires her to READ BOOKS. I might have fallen on her bosom, sobbing, at the idea this kind of thing was an actual PAYING JOB.
Well, it turns out she was a book publicist, and that job is reading and talking about books. All kinds of books. I may have told her I wanted her job every day for a year.
Finally she hired me. It was probably either that or arrange to have me be kidnapped by aliens.
So I became a book publicist. And I got paid to read and talk about books.
Only, as it turns out, back then, I was talking about books to a lot of people who didn't really care about books. Radio show hosts who just wanted something attention grabbing being the prime example. Off the book page newspaper people who wanted something attention grabbing.
And one day, it was just too much.
Publicity is the most thankless job in publishing.
I did it until I couldn't do it one more minute.
Complete and utter burnout.
Well, that was a problem because they don't pay you to sit around and be an ex-publicist. I needed to earn a living.
So I called in my coven of business advisers and described the problem.
I didn't want to leave publishing and learn a new trade.
That was about the only condition I had.
So the first question was "what other jobs are there in publishing?"
And we made a list.
Some I was clearly unsuited for: assistant of anything for starters.
And someone said "what is an agent" cause that was on the list.
And I said "an agent sells books to publishers."
And my friends said "isn't that what you kind of do now?"
And I said "yes"
So I decided to become an agent.
And God did not laugh. Which was one of the miracles of my life, to be honest.
Instead the path was smoothed in front of me: I moved to New York, I stumbled into a group of established agents who mentored and guided me, I found writers willing to sign with someone who had almost no experience, and editors who were willing to buy books from someone they'd never heard of.
So, the short answer to why do you do this is "because I can't do anything else", but the real answer is "because it brings me immeasurable joy, and I believe with all my heart and soul that this is the work I was always meant to do."
I don't know very many things absolutely, but this is one of them: Joy is how you know you're doing the right thing.
I do this because it brings me joy.
I hope what you're doing brings you joy.
And if you're not, this is a good time of year to think about how to change that.