“It is not possible to know how far the influence of any amiable, honest-hearted, duty-doing man flies out into the world, but it is very possible to know how it has touched one’s self in going by.” ~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I spent my childhood enraptured with stories. I don’t think one ends up in the publishing industry without growing up addicted to the written word. I still fondly remember the weekly trips to the library, how I’d gather a large stack of books I wasn’t interested in and then curl up in a corner and read for hours until it was time to go home.
By the time I got to high school, I had read through most of our local library.
Yet people still astound me with their creativity. For all the books that cobble together a cliche formula (ex. nerdy girl + new bad boy + girl’s loyal best friend = coming-of-age YA hit love triangle), I’ll still come across manuscript submissions that blow me away. It doesn’t seem possible that, in the hundreds of years people have been writing books, we haven’t used up all the good ideas.
But I am continually proved wrong.
I read stories that flip the overused tropes on their heads, reimagine never before read folk tales, and create settings and characters that I’ve never seen before. The imaginative properties of the human brain amazes me. There are times when I come across an ingenious twist or turn of phrase and I can’t help grinning in delight. It is strange to think that I’m one of the first outsiders to feel an emotion that thousands of other people will feel a year or so later (depending on the speed of the publication process) when the book is officially out.
I think that is one of my favorite things about working at a literary agency. I get access to the raw, uncut material that’s come straight from the “Imagination Station” in a writers brain. It’s like getting a private screening of a movie before it comes out. No one else in the world knows the story except for me and the author.
For a short time, I am the Secret Keeper. I get to explore the world and meet the characters first. I love the feeling of stumbling upon a hidden gem and being the first to dig it out.
Find your muse, discover what inspires and stimulates you. For all the billions of books in the world, there are still so many stories yet untold.